PA 10-171—sHB 5255

Planning and Development Committee

Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL MANDATE RELIEF

SUMMARY: This act:

1. requires a state marshal to deliver the possessions and personal property of an evicted tenant to a town-designated storage facility, rather than leaving them on the sidewalk or road to be picked up by the town and eliminates the town's responsibility to pay for the expense of moving these items;

2. applies the same procedures to possessions and personal property of a person evicted in a foreclosure or similar action;

3. limits the scope of a law under which certain telecommunications companies pay property tax on their personal property at a statewide mill rate; and

4. stipulates that the meeting minutes of a municipal agency need not be posted on the Internet in order to comply with the Freedom of Information Act's requirements.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2010 for the tenant and foreclosure provisions and October 1, 2010 for (1) the Internet posting provision and (2) the property tax provisions, which are applicable to assessment years beginning on and after that date.

TREATMENT OF TENANT PROPERTY

Under prior law, the state marshal who executed an eviction order was allowed to move the tenant's possessions and personal property to the sidewalk or street. Before doing so, the marshal notified the town's chief executive officer, who removed and stored the items for 15 days. The act requires the marshal to remove the items to a storage facility designated by the town's chief executive officer rather than putting them on the sidewalk or road for the town to remove and store. It eliminates (1) a requirement that the town's chief executive officer remove them and (2) the town's responsibility and reimbursement for removal expenses.

By law, within the 15-day storage period, the former tenant can claim the items and reimburse the town for the moving and storage expenses. After that time and an attempt to locate and notify the owner, the chief executive officer can sell the property at public auction, after posting a notice of the sale. He or she must give the former tenant the proceeds of the sale after deducting the town's costs for storage. After 30 days, if the tenant does not claim the sale proceeds, they are deposited in the town treasury.

The act requires the marshal's execution notice given to the tenant to include instructions on how and where he or she can reclaim his or her possessions and personal effects, including a telephone number for arranging their release.

FORECLOSURES

Under prior law, the state marshal enforcing an eviction order following a mortgage foreclosure or similar court action could move any possessions and personal effects of the evicted person to the sidewalk or road. Under the act, the officer delivers them to a storage place designated by the town's chief executive officer. The act imposes the same requirements with respect to reimbursements and the notice instruction provisions as it does for tenants.

PROPERTY TAXES FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS COMPANIES

Under existing law, some telecommunications companies must, and others may, provide a list of their personal property used solely to provide telecommunications services to the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), the Department of Revenue Services (DRS), and the town where the property is located. The lists that go to OPM and DRS must list the property on a town-by-town basis; the list that goes to an individual town must identify just the property that is located in or allocated to that town. Each list must identify where the property is located and give its fair market value, depreciated to the maximum extent allowed under the corporation business tax. The OPM secretary must calculate the taxable value of the property at 70% of its depreciated value, which is subject to a statewide tax rate of 47 mills. The tax revenue goes to the towns.

The act eliminates, after August 1, 2009, the ability of a company that provides mobile telecommunications services to choose this tax treatment. It makes the election of a company that chose this treatment before August 1, 2009 null and void. The act specifies how the property of these companies must be taxed. Property that had not been fully depreciated under the corporation tax on or before the October 1, 2009 grand list must be treated like other property under the property tax laws, e. g. , it is subject to assessment by the municipality and the locally set tax rate.

The act phases in this treatment for property that had been fully depreciated as of the October 1, 2009 grand list. For the assessment year starting October 1, 2010, the company must file a tax declaration reporting 25% of the “total” (apparently undepreciated) value of its fully depreciated property. The proportion increases to 50% and 75% for the 2011 and 2012 assessment years, respectively. For assessment years 2013 and thereafter, the company must report 100% of the property's total value.

The act appears to apply to all of the personal property of telecommunications companies subject to its provisions, even if this property is used to provide other types of telecommunications services, e. g. , landline service.

The act does not address the tax treatment of a company that chose the statewide taxation option between August 1, 2009 and this provision's effective date (October 1, 2010). It appears that such property would be subject to generally applicable property tax laws.

MUNICIPAL MEETING MINUTES

The Freedom of Information Act requires agencies of the state and its political subdivisions to make the minutes of public meetings available for public inspection and, if the agency has an Internet website, to post them on it. The act exempts an agency of a town, city, borough, or district from the requirement to post minutes on the Internet.

OLR Tracking: MJ: SC: PF: ts/df