It might not have been a packed house, but the business owners who came before the Tax Abatement Committee on Tuesday packed a punch, saying they are being unfairly taxed. Many received reassessment notices on their businesses, which valued their assets at hundreds or thousands of dollars.
"I received a notice of reassessment for my property, and the assessment when up about 32 percent," Harry David, of New Haven, said.
Some jumped even more. Mona Berman runs a business out of her Lyon Street home. In 2008, her assets were valued at $333. Last year, it increased to $5,000! Berman says she wasn't given the paperwork or an explanation why.
"I think this kind of treatment by city personnel to the taxpayers of this city -- I pay personal tax on my business, on my car and on my property -0 is just absolutely despicable," she told the Committee.
Curtis Packer co-owns the Bru Café on Orange Street. He bought it in 2008 for $10,000 with assets valued at $1,000. In one year, the value jumped to $40,000 in assets, and Packer was charged with an additional $10,000 as a penalty for not filing his forms on time. The thing is, Packer says he personally handed them in.
"I know fines have been heavily levied. I'll be honest, Bru Café cannot think about that, and if the city starts pushing, you'll lose a business," Packer said.
Tax Assessor Bill O'Brien says he is doing his job fairly, and that some people underestimate the value of their assets.
"This is not something that's pulled out of the sky. There's no targeting. In fact, I don't know individuals, I'm not concerned about that. I'm concerned about assets, which we value, and business types," O'Brien said.
Packer appealed the increase, but his appeal was denied. Berman said she wasn't able to appeal because she wasn't given the proper paperwork.
One alderman is suggesting the Tax Abatement Committee do an investigation into the practices of the Assessor's Office.