Attorney General: Mr. Reginald Jones, Office of Policy and Management, 1995-034 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

November 22, 1995

Mr. Reginald Jones
Secretary
Office of Policy and Management
80 Washington Street
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Mr. Jones:

Your office presented us with the following two questions relating to Section 51 of 1994 Conn. Pub. Act No. 94-4 of the May Special Session now codified as Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-62h:

1) Is a municipality required to revalue all real property for property tax purposes by taking all the normal and necessary actions involved in the revaluation of real property, before its legislative body may vote to stay the implementation of said revaluation?

2) Does this legislation allow a municipality to defer beginning the process of revaluation until after the conclusion of the 1995 session of the General Assembly?1

These questions clearly appear to deal with an issue of local governmental concern, an area which we traditionally have referred to local counsel. See Conn. Op. Atty. Gen. April 4, 1995. However, because you are vested with the authority to impose penalties on those municipalities which fail to notify you that they have implemented a revaluation, the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-62h are relevant to the conduct of your statutory duties.

Under Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-62(e), as amended by 1993 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 93-373, the chief executive officer of each municipality must file a written notice of the implementation of a revaluation with the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management not later than five business days following the date on which final action with respect to the establishment of a mill rate for the revalued grand list is taken. The Secretary may impose a penalty on those municipalities which fail to timely file such notice. The penalty is in the form of a reduction in the total amount of state grants-in-aid made to such municipality. According to the information you have supplied us, certain towns have notified you that they have stayed implementation of a revaluation pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-62h. Additionally, it is your understanding that certain towns who have stayed implementation have not actually undertaken the process of revaluation. We note for background purposes, that each municipality in this state is mandated to revalue all of the real estate in its respective confines every ten years. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-62(a); State ex rel. Eastern Color Printing Co. v. Jenks, 150 Conn. 444, 450-51, 190 A.2d 591 (1963).

Our analysis begins with the statutory provision which gives rise to your questions. Section 12-62h provides in pertinent part:

Notwithstanding any provision of title 12 of the general statutes, the local legislative body of a municipality may, at its option, stay the implementation of such municipality's revaluation in order to implement the recommendations of the Property Tax Reform Commission enacted during the 1995 session of the general assembly. The local legislative body of a municipality may stay such implementation for a period or periods not to exceed in the aggregate two years. Any distressed municipality shall by majority vote of its legislative body approve such stay and any municipality, other than a distressed municipality shall by two-thirds vote of its legislative body approve such stay. ... If during the 1995 session of the general assembly no legislation is enacted concerning property tax reform[,] each municipality which has stayed the implementation of revaluation or phase-in of revaluation shall recommence the implementation of such revaluation or phase-in upon the expiration of any stay implemented according to the provisions of this section.

(Emphasis added.)

The foregoing provision took effect from its passage, June 9, 1994, 1994 Conn. Pub. Act No. 94-4, 85.

Section 12-62h permits municipalities the option of staying "the implementation of such municipality's revaluation" for a period or periods not to exceed two years in the aggregate. We have reviewed the legislative history of 1994 Conn. Pub. Act No. 94-4 (May Special Session) but there is an absence of any discussion with regard to the mechanics involved in staying the implementation of a town's revaluation.

In regard to your agency's statutory responsibilities, Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-62h will affect the town notification required at the termination of the statutorily provided stay. Section 12-62h permits a stay of the implementation of a revaluation "for a period or periods not to exceed in the aggregate two years." The stay's purpose is to allow municipalities the opportunity to implement any property tax reforms measures which are enacted during the 1995 session. The 1995 regular session ended on June 7, 1995. Because it was conceivable that the 1995 Legislature could have enacted such legislation on the last day of the session,2 a municipality whose revaluation would normally be implemented for tax payments due in July, 1995, could have implemented a stay as late as June 7, 1995, the last day of the session. Thus, if such a stay were for the maximum permitted two years, it would extend implementation of the revaluation until June, 1997.

The stay of the implementation does not, however, stay the town's requirement to conduct the revaluation prior to the conclusion of the stay. In the construction of the general statutes, words shall be construed according to the commonly approved usage of the language. Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-1. "Implement" means "to put into practical effect; carry out." The American Heritage Dictionary, (2d College Ed., 1985), p. 646. In order to implement a revaluation it must have already been conducted. "Conduct," on the other hand, means "to direct the course of." Id. at 306. Therefore, in order to implement, or carry out, a revaluation, the revaluation must be in existence, i.e., it must have been conducted.

In answer to your precise questions, there is no statutory requirement that the revaluation be conducted prior to the two-year stay authorized by Conn. Gen. Stat. 12-62h. However, although a municipality may have issued a stay under section 12-62h to commence on June 7, 1995, the end of the 1995 session, it may not defer beginning the process of revaluation until June 7, 1997. Instead, such revaluation must be completed prior to the end of the two year stay and implemented at that time.

We trust this answers your questions.

Very truly yours,

Richard Blumenthal
Attorney General


1 This question was presented to us in a supplemental memorandum from Peter N. Dibble, Undersecretary, Intergovernmental Policy Division, Office of Policy and Management, wherein Mr. Dibble substituted this question for an earlier one. 2 Section 12-62h specifically provides for the recommencement of the implementation of a revaluation upon the expiration of any stay issued under the authority of said section if the Legislature fails to enact property tax reform legislation.


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