Through a tax measure passed in November, the town of Trumbull is hoping to lure businesses with the promise of new incentives for developments on properties zoned for commercial uses.
“We’re not your typical bedroom community by any shot,” said Edward Lavernoich, director of the town’s office of economic and community development. “We have a pretty significant business space. We’d like it to be more. The thought is, ‘How can we make ourselves more competitive?’”
The ordinance allows for the town to match the state’s lowest real estate taxes as a way to attract and encourage businesses to invest in either new or substantially rehabilitated real estate development projects.
The program sets up requirements for administrative procedures, record keeping and project criteria, all of which didn’t exist before. If projects increase a property’s value by between $500,000 and $3 million, a company is given a 30 percent discount on its property taxes for two years. If the project increases the land’s value by more than $3 million, a 30 percent discount is awarded for five years.
“Say a property was assessed at $10 million and you increase the value by another $10 million,” Lavernoich said. “Instead of paying taxes on $20 million, it will be $17 million. … We think that makes our tax rates competitive. You don’t have to give the whole store away. You’re granting a break to a business that is likely to be one of your best paying customers.”
Previously a project had to exceed $15 million in order to be considered for a tax incentive, which Lavernoich said he found no justification for in his research.
While state tax incentive programs like Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s First Five and Next Five initiatives aim to attract businesses and create new jobs, Lavernoich said there is a minimal emphasis on creating jobs through Trumbull’s business tax incentive program.
Instead, it’s about improving the commercial real estate market, he said. Even if a business leaves at the end of its two- or five-year term, the town has already benefited, he said.
“The investment is made and the investment is made in the town,” Lavernoich said. “Companies come and go, but to have an ever-increasing improvement in your commercial and industrial building stock, you’ll always be attractive to new companies, even if you lose old ones.”
There have been no applications to receive incentives since the ordinance was passed, but Lavernoich said just getting one multimillion-dollar real estate project a year would significantly improve the town, both economically and financially.
“Trumbull has spent a lot of time developing a master plan,” said Karen M. DelVecchio, executive director of the Trumbull Chamber of Commerce. “Being suburban, you want economic development, but you want it to make sense.”
DelVecchio said she was very supportive of the ordinance, saying it will help the town grow the parts of its real estate it wants.
“The program makes us more competitive and attractive,” she said. “The people in town, over the last 40 years, have done a good job keeping the character of the town but still promoting business growth where it makes sense.”