Crumbling Basements Cutting Into Town Tax Collections

Dozens of local towns identified by the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters are losing critical tax revenue because of the state's crumbling concrete crisis.

There’s growing number of homes across the state with cracking foundations due to a mineral in the concrete used is causing the material to crack from the inside out. Because hundreds of these homes are now damaged, they are worth less and lower home values translate to less property tax revenue for local towns.

NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters exclusive investigation drilled down on the cash crunch many of these communities are now facing and identified some of those hardest hit.

  • In Manchester, tax losses due to crumbling concrete will cost the equivalent of three police officers
  • Tolland is losing the equivalent of five firefighters
  • In Vernon, tax losses equal to 14 new police cars

Losses to these towns and more than a dozen others will only go up as more people step forward with the same concrete problem.

People like Mary Anne Williams said her basement is literally crumbling beneath her feet. Williams and her husband must pay an estimated $200,000 to replace the foundation in their Tolland home.

"It's kind of like a living nightmare," Williams told the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.

Not only does crumbling basement cost homeowners, but it will cost towns thousands of dollars.

The Williams are among hundreds of households with crumbling basements who have had the value of their homes lowered because of the damage. This is resulting in the loss of thousands of dollars in tax revenues for towns across north central and eastern Connecticut, like Ellington.

"The way I look at it, it's just the tip of the iceberg," Ellington First Selectman Lori Spielman said.

Spielman's town sits miles away from the now-defunct company that made the concrete containing a naturally occurring mineral, experts believe, caused hundreds of basements to crack.

The problem takes years to develop, well beyond the time that's allowed for people to make a defective product claim. Most insurers don't cover this damage, but so far, 678 homeowners have filed complaints with the state.

The reduced value of these homes has reduced the amount of property tax money Ellington can collect by $62,000 per year.

"That's one teacher or one snowplow driver," State Representative Christopher Davis said.

Data gathered by the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters show seven towns have it even worse than Ellington. Willington is losing $99,000 in annual tax revenues, Stafford totals $103,000 and South Windsor will take a $330,000 hit.

It's alarming to state representative Jeff Currey, whose district includes South Windsor.

"That means a handful of paraprofessionals at schools that means secretaries at the town offices I mean those are those numbers could potentially translate into real people," Currey said.

Government assistance has come in the form of $100 million the state will borrow to replace crumbling concrete basements and that could help restore home values and property tax revenues.

Some elected officials, however, believe the state money will run out as more homeowners come forward with crumbling basements, and then, towns may come to the state for help again.

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