MILFORD — At the 59th annual meeting of the Milford Chamber of Commerce held January 29 at Grassy Hill Country Club, the business group presented “Awards of Distinction” to 13 local individuals and organizations. Among them: Businessperson of the Year — John Walsh of Total Mortgage Services, LLC; Corporate Award — Michael Zahornacky of Excello Tool Engineering & Mftg. Co.; Lifetime Achievement Award — Jody Culmone of Milford Consortium for Child Care Initiatives Inc.; and Small-Business Person of the Year — Gus & Julia Grigoriadis of Pop’s Family Restaurant. Some 200 people attended the event.

 HARTFORD — The office of Secretary of the State Denise Merrill has launched an online Business Startup Tool designed to help entrepreneurs more quickly register new companies and access state and federal agencies needed for licensing, labor and tax regulations. The online Business Startup Tool also connects business owners with resources to help with business planning and financing.


The online business startup tool provides direct links to the state Departments of Consumer Protection, Energy and Environmental Protection, Labor, Revenue Services, and the Connecticut Licensing Information Center.  The tool also connects entrepreneurs to the federal Small Business Administration, Internal Revenue Service and the federal Department of Commerce Patent & Trademark Office. In addition to regulatory agencies, the online business startup tool also provides links to information on public and private sector business financing as well as business planning assistance.


The tool can be accessed online through the Secretary of the State website,

 HARTFORD — As the state Lottery gears up to implement Keno gambling in bars and restaurants throughout the state, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told reporters that he is open to repealing the law passed last year that allows for its rollout.

Keno has not yet opened outside the state's two casinos, but the state budget does rely on $27 million in revenue from Keno in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

"Keno wasn't my idea. It wasn't in my budget [proposed last year]. It does raise revenue. Some people want it. Some people don't want it. You know, the legislature's got a job to do and this was not done by me. So, we'll do whatever we are asked to do and affect it appropriately," the Democratic governor told reporters Wednesday.

State Sen. Andrea L. Stillman (D-20) of Waterford, a strong opponent of gambling, has proposed a bill that would repeal Keno.

Malloy said that while it is ultimately up to the legislature to sort out, "I will point out that Keno is ubiquitous and is frequently run by lottery organizations in other states, but you know that's a political decision. But I am not the person that proposed Keno."

Malloy did sign the budget last spring that included revenue from the Keno games and the budget he proposed to the legislature last week does depend on $27 million in revenue from the games for the 2014-15 fiscal year.



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 A new report by the Office of Revenue Analysis of the government of the District of Columbia places Bridgeport No. 1 for the highest tax rate in the country when combining property, sales, auto and income taxes. According to the study, a hypothetical Park City family of three earning $75,000 paid $16,333 in taxes — or nearly 22 percent of its income — in 2012. (The total does not include federal taxes.)

After Bridgeport, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Columbus, Providence, Portland, Maine, Louisville, Detroit and Wilmington, Del. round out the top ten.

The Park City’s mill rate, 41.85, is among the highest in Connecticut. City officials have urged state legislative leaders to delay state-mandated revaluation of property for two more years in hopes that an economic turnaround will stabilize city finances. City officials fear if revaluation is not postponed, the mill rate will skyrocket into the 60s, sending property, auto and business taxes through the roof.

Bridgeport’s onerous tax burden afflicts taxpayers across the income spectrum. A family with an annual household income of just $25,000 would pay $4,001 in taxes (fourth-highest in the nation), according to the study, while taxes on an annual household income of $150,000 would be a tops-in-the-nation $33,208.

The study compared cities with the highest populations in their respective states. Cheyenne, Wy. had the lowest tax rate in the country, according to the study.

 In a ranking compiled last year by the National Journal, senior U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal tied with Tom Udall (D-N.M.) atop the list of the Senate's most liberal members, a list that includes Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Al Franken of Minnesota and Patty Murray of Washington. (Junior Sen. Christopher Murphy had been in the Senate only a month when the publication released its study, so he was not ranked.)

Notwithstanding a handful of contrarian votes, Blumenthal and Murphy almost always voted with their party. The analysis of their 2013 votes shows Blumenthal voting with fellow Democrats and the Democratic leadership 99 percent of the time, and that Murphy was loyal to his party in 98 percent of his votes. The average in the Senate, whose members typically show more independence than lawmakers in the House, was 90 percent.

 City, 360 State Street meet in middle on property tax


NEW HAVEN — After nearly three years of legal wrangling, the city of New Haven and the owners of 360 State Street have come to an agreement on the property tax assessment of the apartment building.


According to city Corporation Counsel Victor A. Bolden, this settlement reflects “a compromise between a higher valuation desired by the city and a lower valuation desired by” the apartment building’s owner, the Multi-Employee Pension Trust (MEPT).


When it opened in 2010, the 32-story apartment building was the first large-scale downtown development in decades. The original city valuation of 360 State Street was for $186 million and was based on a “cost methodology,” or what it cost to build the project, devised by the city’s assessor at the time, William O’Brien.


MEPT argued that the $186 million valuation was too high and said its investment in the project was based on a $1.4 million annual tax estimate offered by the city when the project was still in the planning stages.


The new agreed upon value is $82 million for tax years 2010 through 2015. Both sides agreed that a fairer approach for assessment of the property would be to calculate 360 State’s actual and potential revenue stream, the income approach, as opposed to the cost methodology and to do so consistently with similar properties in the 2011 citywide property revaluation.


The assessment of 360 State Street at $82 million means that at full taxes and at New Haven’s current mill rate, MEPT will pay approximately $2.3 million in taxes per year. However, because taxes are phased in over five years for all new, large development projects, MEPT will not be paying full taxes on the property immediately. 


For the current 2014 fiscal year, MEPT will pay $988,449 in taxes. In the next fiscal year that sum will be $1,439,606 and will reach full taxes in fiscal year 2017.


James Perito of Halloran & Sage, LLP, outside counsel for the City, noted that, “the agreed upon valuation and settlement represents the efforts of all parties and removes for both sides the uncertainty of further litigation, while giving greater certainty for budget purposes.”


With 500 residential units, 360 State Street was the first large-scale downtown residential and mixed-use development to be built downtown in decades and resulted in New Haven’s downtown becoming one of the most densely populated downtowns in New England.