One of the givens of modern life has always been that used cars lose value year after year, at least until they’re so old that they’re considered classics.
But this year that truism has been flipped on its head.
Thousands of city residents driving around in old cars and trucks opened their property tax bills this week to find that Bristol had pegged the value of their vehicles higher this year than it did last year.
With a mill rate increase also factored in, many people are looking at motor vehicle tax bills higher than they paid for the same car or truck a year ago -- though far from everyone.
“It’s an anomaly,” city Assessor Tom DeNoto said Friday.
How it happened is straightforward: the National Automobile Dealers Association’s price guide, which every Connecticut municipality must use, showed that used car values were up almost across the board.
DeNoto said his office has been inundated with phone calls from residents questioning the new valuations.
“We are getting people that just can’t believe it,” he said.
The reason for the increased value of used cars is less than clear, but it’s obviously a direction function of what went on in the economy the past two years.
In 2007 and 2008, as gasoline prices skyrocketed, people were dumping old cars abd buying new ones that didn’t cause such a financial hit at the pumps. That drove down values.
Then last year, when new cars sales were off sharply, used car prices rose.
“Call it a perfect storm,” DeNoto said.
For the city, the motor vehicle Grand List rose 2.5 percent this year after dropping 5.3 percent the year before. It totals $320.5 million.
2006 Toyota 4Runner
2007 value $20,940 with tax bill of $727
2008 value $18,730 with tax bill of $487
2009 value $13,160 with tax bill of $342
2010 value $15,520 with tax bill of $423
2001 Dodge Ram
2007 value $7,930 with tax bill of $275
2008 value $7,050 with tax bill of $183
2009 value $5,690 with tax bill of $148
2010 value $5,510 with tax bill of $150
There will be more on this in the Press this weekend. If you'd like to talk about your own situation, I'd love to hear from you. Send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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