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The city of Bridgeport, Conn., rarely makes the national news—and in this case, it would probably have preferred to remain in relative anonymity. It seems that Bridgeport leads the nation’s metro areas with the highest residential property tax rate and is among the highest for commercial property tax rates, according to a new 50-State Property Tax Comparison Study produced by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in partnership with the Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence.
Bridgeport topped the list with a 3.88 percent property tax rate, followed closely by Detroit (3.81 percent), Aurora, Ill. (3.72 percent), Newark, N.J. (3.05 percent) and Milwaukee (2.68 percent). In comparison, Honolulu’s property tax rate was a miniscule 0.30 percent, which the report credited to high home values and low local government spending. New York City ranked at the top of the list for property tax rates for apartments.
Complicating matters was the issue of assessment limits. For example, the report noted that the owner of a newly purchased home in Long Beach, Calif., paid 40 percent more than someone who has owned the same home for 14 years, the greatest disparity in the country. New York City ranked second with a 37 percent disparity, and Los Angeles ranked third at 35 percent.
One the commercial property side, Detroit (4.13 percent), New York City (3.96 percent) and Providence, R.I. (3.71 percent) had the highest property tax rate; tax-beleaguered Bridgeport ranked fifth with 3.59 percent. Cheyenne, Wyo., had the lowest commercial property tax rate at 0.64 percent.
“The property tax is a critical source of revenue for local government services, from education to public safety,” said Joan Youngman, chairwoman of the Lincoln Institute’s Department of Valuation and Taxation. “This report provides a snapshot of property taxation across cities, one step toward a fuller picture of how communities meet their responsibility to serve their citizens.”