Kasica v. Town of Columbia
A municipal assessor has the authority under Connecticut General Statutes §12-55(b) to conduct an interim assessment of a property and increase its valuation based on partially completed construction. Gene Kasica owns 163 acres of land in the town of Columbia and cleared a 3.44 acre portion for a building lot. The town assessor valued the 3.44 acre lot at $255,000 on the Oct. 1, 2008 grand list. Thereafter, the assessor observed that the lot was improved with a "partially-constructed, three-story, plantation-style house." The assessor determined that construction was 35 percent complete, valued the partially completed house at $569,500, and adjusted the property's assessment on the 2008 grand list to reflect that value. The following year, the assessor determined that construction was 40 percent complete, valued the partially completed house at $601,600 and adjusted the property's value accordingly for the 2009 grand list. Kasica appealed. Columbia's Board of Assessment Appeals upheld the interim valuations. The Superior Court reversed the decision. The court agreed with the plaintiff that the specific terms of C.G.S. §12-53a(a) governing new construction prevailed over the broad terms of C.G.S. §12-55 and, therefore, the assessor lacked authority to perform an interim assessment on the incomplete property. The town appealed challenging the ruling and claiming that the trial court improperly applied C.G.S. §12-53a. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court's judgment. The Supreme Court previously has found, and reaffirmed, that C.G.S. §12-55 grants an assessor broad power to conduct interim assessments of real property, if the assessor deems an assessment necessary to equalize the grand list. Because the plaintiff's property was taxable and because the partially completed construction constituted an improvement to the property under C.G.S. §12-64, the assessor had the authority under C.G.S. §12-55 to conduct an interim assessment of the property and increase the valuation to reflect the partially completed construction. While C.G.S. §12-55 is permissive, C.G.S. §12-53a mandates that an assessor conduct an assessment of "[c]ompleted new construction" within 90 days of completion. By its plain terms, C.G.S. §12-53a applies only to "completed new construction." It did not apply to the plaintiff's partially completed construction. Given the lack of an express exemption, the plaintiff's claim was rejected that C.G.S. §12-53a signifies legislative intent that only "completed" construction may be taxed.