THE INTERRELATIONSHIP BETWEEN REAL PROPERTY VALUES AND A QUALITY EDUCATION SYSTEM
As special legal counsel to Regional School District No. 16 since the mid 1970’s, I personally witnessed the dramatic increase in real property values in both towns after construction of a new high school in Beacon Falls. Region 16 consists of the towns of Prospect and Beacon Falls which both border Naugatuck. For many years, there was a bitter dispute between both towns as to the location of a high school as well as with the taxpayers who opposed the construction of a new school in either town. After numerous attempts and a lengthy fight, the towns approved the construction of Woodland High School. Real property values in both towns increased dramatically immediately. The cost of a building lot in either town was almost double the cost of a building lot in Naugatuck. Homeowners looking to buy a home in the area who couldn’t afford Southbury or Middlebury flocked to Prospect and Beacon Falls. A perception was established that a family with school age children were better off in Beacon Falls or Prospect than in Naugatuck. This perception remains today. The reality as to whether or not there is a significant difference in the quality of education provided in Region 16 as opposed to Naugatuck is irrelevant. Real property values have remained significantly higher in Prospect and Beacon Falls since the construction of Woodland High School because of the perception that a child will receive a better education in Region 16 than in Naugatuck. This perception must change over time if residential real property values are to increase in Naugatuck. We must strive to achieve at least equal footing with Region 16 so that a young family looking to invest in a home in the area will consider Naugatuck as a reasonable alternative to Prospect, Beacon Falls or other surrounding towns.
We have almost completed the renovation of Naugatuck High School. We have hired a talented superintendent of schools who is starting to make a difference in the quality of education in Naugatuck. We are in the process of implementing a long term facility plan that will improve the physical school facilities in the Borough. While I am mindful that we can’t afford to spend as much on education as our school administrators may request, we can continue to work with the Board of Education and the Superintendent to continue to change the perception of our school system in a positive direction. We will require accountability and progress but invest in our future. As we achieve smart growth in the vicinity of downtown and outlying areas, a portion of the increased revenue will be reinvested for education. As the town grows and revenues increase, the grand list will go up and the mill rate will go down. Real property values will begin to increase and we can reverse the downward spiral in real property values that has plagued Naugatuck more severely than surrounding towns. When a taxpayer elects to sell his or her home at retirement age, the extra value in the sales price will more than offset the effects of having supported a better quality education for Naugatuck students. There will be additional blogs on the interrelationship of education and real property values as well as other relevant factors in the future.