Car Taxes Went UP 23%!

Some say taxes are going down, but our car tax bill went up by a staggering 23%!

We've heard so much from the local Trumbull Republicans since they were swept into office in November 2009 with their promises of reining in tax increases and fiscally conservative policies.  But I don't know how any objective observer on either side of the political aisle could say that the most recent budget adopted by Tim Herbst and the Republicans was austere or conservative.  Indeed, it increased town spending by 4.52%, and added several brand new and high paying jobs to the budget.  It seems like only yesterday when Mr. Herbst was saying "the party's over."  But if you take a look at your most recent tax bill and see the new spending going on in Town Hall, you might believe that the party is just getting started.

If you haven't opened up your mail yet, brace yourself when you look at your car tax bill(s).  The first thing you will notice is that the tax bill comes in a separate envelope for each car in your driveway.  We are now in 2012.  Can we find a way to send only one envelope per household with all the tax bills in it?  A separate envelope and separate postage for each vehicle is a complete waste of taxpayer money.

We have a 2006 Volkswagen Jetta with an automatic transmission, and a 2009 Volkswagen Jetta with a standard transmission.  Yes, we like Jettas.  Last year, the property tax on both vehicles was $650.76.  This year, the tax bill is $799.68.  That's an increase of $149, or a staggering 23% increase!  And both of our cars are a year older than last year, and worth less!

What happened to austere government?  What happened to fiscally conservative policies?  I did some research and found that Mr. Herbst has added over 10 full-time equivalent positions to the town side of the government in just the last three years.  This past year, we added a new Director of Economic Development Postion at $95,000, plus lucrative benefits, when the previous person was a contract position and made $80,000 with NO benefits.  We also added a new Director of Planning at $85,000 with full lucrative benefits.  I was stunned to find out that the new Director of Planning is also in a union, and if she works overtime or has to come back at night for a town meeting, we have to pay her travel, overtime, and compensatory time.  Wow. 

I continued to do research and I found out that Tim Herbst and the Republicans have raised the mill rate from 25.00 to 30.71 in one year.  That's a 22.8% increase, the LARGEST percentage increase in the millrate since 1958!  And the 30.71 mill rate is the HIGHEST mill rate Trumbull has had since 1989!  Thank you Tim Herbst and the Trumbull Republicans.

And I am still wondering what Trumbull families are getting for their tax dollars.  Are the schools better?  No!  We've had a long list of cuts to many items in the school budget.  Indeed, Mr. Herbst and the Trumbull Republicans have increased town spending by 9.7% in three years....but the priority has NOT been education.  Education received an increase of 7.7% over three years, which was not enough to maintain the status quo.  But the town side of the government was bestowed a 12.6% increase in spending.  But even with the amount of taxpayers dollars Herbst has pumped into creating a bigger town goverment, do we have more teachers?  No.  Do we have more police officers on the street?  No.  Are we paving more town roads?  No. 

Are we better off now than we were in 2009?  Absolutely NO.

In the coming days, you will likely hear that while car taxes went up by a staggering 23%, many homes got a tax cut.  Well, I did some research on that, too.  Some homes in Trumbull are getting a tax INCREASE of 10%!  So those homes are getting a double hit on their homes and their cars.  And while many homes will pay less taxes than they did a year ago, the value of those homes went DOWN by an average of 21% in the last reassessment.  Trumbull is now taking a bigger percentage of the value of homes than at anytime since 1989!

When the town increases spending by 4.52%, only a fool would believe that taxes are going down....that makes no sense at all, and in fact, it's not happening.  Trumbull residents deserve straight talk when it comes to both taxing AND spending.  I suggest that anyone who is upset when they open their tax bills today do the research themselves, and arrive at your own conclusions.  In the meantime, I no longer rely on what Tim Herbst and the Republicans SAY, I watch what they DO.

My best wishes to everyone for a happy and safe Fourth of July Holiday!

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TrumbullProgressive June 28, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Dead-on Tom - say one thing and do another. While cutting funding for our schools, Mr. Herbs has taken care of his buddies in Town Hall. And we now have not one, but TWO K-9 dogs on our police force - even though they cost as much as $60,000 per year to care for, they tie up an officer who could be doing other duties, they are hardly ever needed, and we could always borrow one from a neighboring police dept. What happened to his pledge to separate our want from our needs? It's clear that the Herbst administration has taken full advantage of the sad decline in our property values. They've claimed a tax cut while increasing spending in Town Hall and hiding tax increases in the motor vehicle tax bill and other town fees. Very sad.
Lisa Labella June 28, 2012 at 12:03 PM
My car taxes increased 26%. My house has declined so much in value that I may not be able to take advantage of the drop in mortgage rates to refinance ... I would have been willing to pay more in real estate taxes to preserve the equity I was counting on when I sell the house. For me, this is a lose-lose.
David Rosenburg June 28, 2012 at 01:43 PM
I'm sure that Mr. Herbst or other town council members monitor this site. Let's give them a chance to explain this. I, too was shocked to see a 25% increase in a bill that should have gone down a little bit due to the age of the vehicles. Gentlemen/Ladies, will someone from our town stand up and explain this? Thank you.
Scot Kerr July 01, 2012 at 02:39 PM
There isn’t much to explain here except why the increase in Lisa’s and David’s Motor Vehicle Tax bills actually exceeded the 22.8% increase in the mil rate, because that makes no sense if the cars are the same year over year. Tom’s problem is his devotion to Volkswagen. My ’09 Jetta lost only .78% in value resulting in a net tax increase on that car of 21.9%, so I share his pain. Even though we knew this was coming, it didn’t fully register until the four bills from the town arrived last week (3 cars + sewer assessment). Yes, there is clearly a lot of room for improvement in the processing of all town bills (real estate, motor vehicle, sewer usage, sewer assessment, and fire tax) to reduce printing and postage, and have more timely delivery. (What other bills arrive within days of being due?) But, putting the administrative inefficiencies aside, the reality is that the mil rate is as much a metric as it is a driver of our tax bills, so it’s not worth focusing too much energy on it as a cause of the problem. We need to focus on overall spending, and each of us has to understand how our tax dollars get spent, insuring alignment with our own priorities (Public safety, schools, parks/recreation/open space, road/infrastructure maintenance, etc.). A simple spreadsheet showing dollars across years for these and other key categories would tell the real story that we all need to hear.
Jessica Leffelman July 02, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Some car values went up! Boyfriend's father owns an '07 Saturn Aura. It went up in value by $330 due to its popularity and great gas mileage. It is irritating as all heck that the mill rate went up that much! I'm thankful I have an 11 yr old car but soon I won't!
John Kriz July 02, 2012 at 08:32 PM
I got my tax bills today and was very happy to see that my total tax bill for two cars and my house was lower than last year. As a retiree, I appreciate this savings. It's the bottom line that's important. I thank Tim Herbst for this one. As for house market value being down, that has nothing to do with either the Republicans or Democrats in town.
JR July 03, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Mr. Kriz, Thank the reval on your property, not Tim Herbst. I'll bet your car taxes are up over last year. You can thank him for that.
John Kriz July 03, 2012 at 06:56 PM
JR, If the revaluation did not occur, the mil rate would be lower and the car taxes would not have gone up disproportionately. The TOTAL tax I pay is what's important to me, and mine is lower this year! If the car tax were lowered, the budget would need to be lowered a corresponding amount. As I recall, there was opposition to cutting the budget. You guys are really stretching on this one and I'm usually in agreement with your viewpoints.


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