School board member challenges property tax assessment
Gordon and his wife, Linda, filed an appeal April 6 at state Superior Court in Stamford to appeal a decision by the town's Board of Assessment Appeals, which determined in March that the Gordons' approximately 9,700-square-foot house on Clapboard Hill Road has a fair market value of approximately $5.2 million. The Gordons counter that their home is only worth $4.25 million, according to a January appraisal of the 2-acre property conducted by an independent appraiser.
The Board of Assessment Appeals' decision resulted in an assessed value of approximately $3.65 million, or 70 percent of the property's appraised value. Based on that valuation, the Gordons would have an annual tax bill of approximately $63,600, based on the town's current property tax rate of 17.43 mills, or $17.43 for every $1,000 of their property's assessed value.
"Based on the appraisal that we received, we felt that the taxes we were paying were not what they should be," Gordon said Friday. "We trusted the appraisal we received, and that's what drove our thinking."
The Gordons are seeking an assessment reduction that would "accurately" reflect what they contend the assessed value of their home should be, according to a summons submitted to the Town Clerk's Office. Their legal appeal also calls for them to be reimbursed, with interest, by the town for any taxes they pay in addition to the tax levy that would be produced by a reduced assessment.
The Gordons' home had been valued at approximately $5.4 million, according to its 2011 assessment by the town Assessor's Office. The Gordons appealed that valuation to the three-person Board of Assessment Appeals, which ruled in March that the home's market value is about $5.2 million. The Gordons bought their Clapboard Hill Road home for $2.1 million in 2005.
Using the value set by the Gordons' appraiser for the property, they would pay approximately $51,900 in annual property taxes -- about $11,700 less than the amount that they would be levied based on the Board of Assessment Appeals' valuation.
"I see no conflict of interest at all," Board of Education Chairman Don O'Day said in an email Friday. "Michael is a welcome addition to the BOE and his passion for kids is very apparent. Whatever he does to challenge his tax burden is a personal matter and does not interfere with his ability to serve the town and our schools."
Republican Town Committee Chairman Bob Zappi also backed Gordon.
"Every citizen has the right to contest his/her assessment following legal guidelines," he said in an email Friday. "It does not matter whether or not someone is an elected official. It is a personal decision that should not involve politics."
Gordon, a Democrat, was elected in November 2011 to his first term on the Board of Education. He was the top campaign fundraiser among all candidates on the municipal ballot last year.
Gordon is also the founder and chief executive officer of Group Gordon, a strategic communications and public relations firm. He also served as an education adviser in former President Bill Clinton's administration.
"I think all families in town make the decisions that are right for them, and people understand that," Gordon added. "I also think that people understand the hard work that I and many others do on behalf of the town."
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