Borough’s Grand List grows modestly

The borough’s 2010 Grand List saw a slight increase over 2009 due to a rise in motor vehicle and personal property values.

Borough Assessor George Hlavachek said the total net 2010 Grand List was $2.027 billion, a 0.6 percent or roughly $11 million increase over 2009.

“All in all, it’s nice to have an increase even if it’s slight,” Hlavachek said.

A town’s grand list is the total valuation of taxable property within a town. Increases in towns’ grand lists often help to offset potential property tax increases.

Mayor Bob Mezzo said officials were worried the Grand List would actually decline, and he was pleasantly surprised to see any growth at all.

“This does provide a glimmer of hope that we may be seeing the beginnings of a recovery, but we have a long way to go,” Mezzo said.

The Grand List is broken down into three categories, motor vehicles, personal property, and real estate.

Motor vehicle values saw the largest increase, jumping to $165 million, a $7 million or 4.4 percent increase.

Hlavachek attributed the increase to a rise in the number of cars in the borough, as well as used cars holding their value.

The value of personal property, which covers items and equipment owned by businesses, increased $2 million or 3 percent to $73.8 million.

Hlavachek said local businesses have been putting money into their business, a step he viewed as companies being hopeful for the future.

“Basically businesses seemed to be holding their own and improving,” he said.

Mezzo echoed his sentiments.

“The companies that are still here did enough investment into equipment and machinery to see a small growth and that’s encouraging,” Mezzo said.

Real estate values, which make up the largest portion of the Grand List by far, saw a $2 million increase coming in at about $1.8 billion. However, real estate values saw the smallest percentage increase, improving just 0.2 percent from 2009.

Mezzo said the real estate sector is likely to be the last one to rebound from the recession.

“That’s fairly consistent with what you’re seeing in the state in general,” Mezzo said.

Mezzo said the increase in the Grand List doesn’t cover inflationary costs. But, he said, given the current state of the economy any increase is good news.

“Given the economy around us, it certainly could have been much worse,” Mezzo said. “As the economy recovers, we have to be equally diligent to retain the business base we have and to expand it.”

Anyone interested in appealing their assessment must pick up a form at the Assessor’s Office in Town Hall, and return the completed form by Feb. 21.

Laraine Weschler contributed to this article.