Additional tax bill comes as surprise to some in New London

New London - Norma White didn't know quite what to make of a $290 tax bill she recently received from the city.

"I was wondering if they were doing something illegal,'' said White, who pays about $3,400 in taxes on her home on Dart Street.

"I always pay my taxes,'' White said Wednesday. "It seemed like this wasn't right.''

White paid half her 2012-13 taxes - $1,700 - in July when she first received the bill. She was ready to pay the second payment this January when she received the revised bill, which said she owed an additional $290.

"I wasn't sure they could do this,'' she said.

But it turns out they can.

This is because taxpayers were undercharged last July because the 2012-13 budget was not finalized when it was time to send out the bills. The additional bills will now help the Tax Collector's Office recoup about $2 million.

White received one of the nearly 22,000 statements from the tax office sent out after Christmas to address a tax increase of 1.29 mills for 2012-13 that was not reflected in the original bills.

Tax collector Maureen Farrell said Wednesday the city mailed 13,950 revised car statements, 1,100 personal property statements and 6,500 real estate statements. Another 4,000 were sent electronically to businesses that escrow mortgages for homeowners, she said.

"We billed at last year's tax rate, and sent a notice that once the mill rate was finalized we would send a corrected bill,'' she said.

The explanation was included in the original bills sent last summer, but many people did not read it or remember it, she said. Her office has been inundated with phone calls and emails questioning the additional request for funds. Because the new notice does not look like previous bills, some are wondering if another bill will be coming.

"This is the bill,'' Farrell said.

No other notices will be sent out. She said the office also is trying to answer all emails and telephone messages. "It may take a while,'' she said. "We asking people to be patient."

Tax bills had to be revised because the budget process took longer than usual and the tax rate was not set. The July tax bills were based on the 2011-12 rate of 25.31 mills.

In October, following a budget referendum and amendments to the municipal spending plan, the City Council approved a tax rate of 26.6 mills, a 1.29 increase.

The revised rate covers the entire year and all taxable property, Farrell said. Taxpayers have until Jan. 31 to pay the entire amount.

The tax collector's office is open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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