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.
NEW HAVEN — Former Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce president Matthew Nemerson has been tapped by new Mayor Toni N. Harp to be the city’s new economic development administrator. He succeeds Kelly Murphy, who held the job for eight years in the administration of John DeStefano Jr.
New Havener Nemerson most recently was president of the Connecticut Technology Council in East Hartford. Before taking the chamber job he was a founding vice president of the Science Park business incubator.
Nemerson backed Harp’s mayoral bid after ending his own City Hall campaign last June. The Woodbridge native is a graduate of Columbia and the Yale School of Management. He says he plans to make neighborhood development an early priority of the new administration.
Business groups say marriage a ‘shore’ thing
First it was the Quinnipiac chamber merging into its larger Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce cousin. Now it’s two shoreline chambers that are getting hitched.
Last month the Branford and Guilford chambers jointly announced that their respective boards of directors had approved a merger, to take effect January 1. The new entity will be known as the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce.
The business groups insist that the move is not driven by economic conditions — indeed, officials in both Branford and Guilford said their memberships were growing and both chambers are in “excellent” financial condition, according to a joint statement.
Instead, “This proactive move will allow members to double their audience, double their market and provide enhanced networking opportunities,” the statement said. “Members will be part to be a part of one of the larger non regional chambers in the state, meaning additional ‘voice’ as well as legislative presence.”
According to Branford chamber President Edward F. Lazarus, both offices will remain in their present locations “for about six months,” after which they will consolidate into a central office. He adds that the new group will retain a physical presence in both communities. “We have made a promise to ensure the ‘integrity’ of each community,” he says.
To help members of both groups get better acquainted, the newly merged Shoreline chamber has scheduled its first joint Business After Hours networking event. It will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. January 28 at Page Hardware & Appliance, 9 Boston Street, Guilford. Admission to the event is $15 for members in advance, $20 for non-members. In order that Branford not feel left out, the business group has scheduled a “Men in Business Program: Charm School for Mavericks” for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. January 22 at Southport Brewing Co., 850 West Main Street, Branford. The session will be led by attorney Kay Wilson, a member of the National Speakers Association. Admission is $15 for members in advance, $20 for non-members.
Call 203-488-5500 for information or to register for either event.
HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has signed into law Executive Order No. 38 to make information regarding certain economic assistance and tax credits used to recruit or retain businesses more accessible to Connecticut residents.
The order directs the state’s Department o0f Economic & Community Development (DECD), in collaboration with the state’s Department of Revenue Services (DRS), to establish and maintain a searchable electronic database on DECD’s website containing information regarding the various forms of state economic assistance and tax credits used to recruit businesses and encourage job creation. Additionally, the DRS commissioner will be required to provide the commissioner of DECD with a report indicating the aggregate amounts of credits claimed in the previous fiscal year as well as those that are carried forward to offset future tax liabilities. As provided by DRS, DECD will also post additional information concerning the size, type, and location of businesses claiming tax credits.
“Connecticut’s taxpayers have a right to know what their state government is doing to promote economic development and job creation,” said Malloy. “Through this executive order, we will give the public easier access to this information.”
HARTFORD — The state Office of Policy & Management (OPM) and the General Assembly’s Office of Fiscal Analysis (OFA) have released consensus revenue estimates for the current fiscal year and the next three fiscal years. The revenue estimates for FY 2014 (ending next June 30) are $123.4 million higher than the previous estimate reflected in OPM’s October 20 letter to state Comptroller Kevin Lembo. Compared to the adopted biennial budget, the consensus anticipates revenues $56.4 million higher in FY 2014 and $32 million higher in FY 2015.
(The estimates may be found at ct.gov/opm/cwp/view.asp?a=2965&Q=459726&PM=1&opmNav=|)
OPM Secretary Ben Barnes said it may be too early in the fiscal year for the estimates to be definitive. “These estimates are a snapshot of the situation four months into the fiscal year,” he said. “The federal shutdown seems to have hampered the economic recovery both nationally and in Connecticut but we are not yet sure of the extent of that damage to state revenues, which are a month or two behind.”