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Hovey's Assessment Went Up

After a neighbor complained that the state representative's basement was finished, but not reported, the assessor added a bedroom and a bathroom to the property's field card

What work State Rep. DebraLee Hovey (R-112) and her husband Paul Balsano did or didn't do to the basement of their ranch at 296 Fan Hill Road became a hotly contested campaign issue last November.

Assessor Elizabeth Duffy recently added a bedroom and a full bathroom to their assessment after a neighbor complained that Hovey's husband made improvements to their basement without reporting it and paying taxes on it.

The Oct. 31,2009 assessment said the ranch had two bedrooms and one full bath. The net assessment was $184,380. Now the field card says there are three bedrooms and two full baths. The total valuation is $309,000 and the net assessment is $216,300.

During the election, Hovey strongly denied that her basement was finished. Patch left her a message asking if she plans to appeal her new assessment, but the call was not returned by press time.

Hovey and Democratic party challenger, Town Councilwoman Michele Mount, were fighting hard down the stretch in last November's race when the Democratic Town Committee issued a press release on the basement dispute in the final week.

DTC Chairwoman Patricia Ulatowski led town Democrats in demanding that Hovey open her doors, and Hovey and her campaign officials denied her basement was finished, though she refused to allow an inspection.

The issue did not help Mount. Hovey easily won reelection, taking 62 percent of the vote.

The controversy was sparked when Patti Campbell, a neighbor of the legislator, had complained to the Building Department, contending that Balsano sectioned off the basement into three rooms and added a new bathroom without reporting it and paying taxes on the improvements.

Mike Ganino February 25, 2011 at 02:03 PM
I really believe the issues of how fair the system is, and how DLH went around the system are two separate discussions...you and I may even agree on some of your points on the former, but the latter in my mind is a slam dunk, she's not fit to represent us in Hartford after what I've seen of this issue and I wish there was a way to assess back taxes and permit fees from her and any property owner that cheats the town.
Nan February 25, 2011 at 02:16 PM
Zoo, what makes you think many of us don't pay more than you. Use your head not your mouth
Mike Ganino February 25, 2011 at 04:55 PM
Holy cow, are you serious? This was a good debate and now it's like we're on the playground...if anyone of us thought we paid TOO LITTLE in property taxes, I'd think something was wrong. Too much, too little...it's irrelevant to the issue with DLH.
Tanga February 25, 2011 at 05:49 PM
Zoo, you're throwing out several red herrings in this thread, but the fact remains: Ms. Hovey should be held accountable for the permits she didn't secure and for the taxes she did not pay on the improvements she made on her home. Her actions are unethical and illegal; if you're going to pretend otherwise, you're just being willfully obtuse.
Mike Ganino February 25, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Well said Tanga.
QWERTY February 25, 2011 at 05:55 PM
A politicians does something shady and you people lose it? ALL politicians break and bend the law and get away with it. Is this news to everyone? Politics and politicians are such a waste of time.
monroe taxpayer February 25, 2011 at 06:11 PM
It seems some here are more concerned about the collection of taxes, then about privacy, freedom, and the ownership of property or the needs of a family. That is not the principles this country was founded on and what we have fought wars over. It clearly shows that we are over taxed. Many long time residents are planning on moving as soon as the market recovers. There are towns and states were can get all more services for less. When someone improves the inside of their home, for the needs of their family, why should that be taxed at all? It just shows that the cost of government is the problem. Ms Hovey needs to address that issue and help us all.
Christine E. February 25, 2011 at 06:32 PM
I don't know Ms. Hovey personally, nor have I seen the inside of her home to make an assessment on what she should be taxed on. I do know that if the new assessment is inaccurate, it can and likely will be appealed. If it isn't appealed, then I would assume that that is Ms. Hovey's way of taking ownership of the improvements made, I'll accept that, and i'll move on. Ms. Hovey is not required by law to allow anyone into her home, but she's automatically labeled guilty. If someone pleads the 5th on a witness stand, we auatomatically label them as guilty. To speculate and make the claim that she HAS made improvements and is being undertaxed is the same speculation we could be putting towards any resident of this town who owns a home. The person who owned my home before me made improvements without permits, and i'm sure a lot of others do too.
Charlie Brown February 25, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Is that the official Republican Town Committee statement - excuse. Any ordinary Joe would be in hot water over this. The problem is special privledge afforded Ms. Hovey. This a an embarassment to the town.
Mike Ganino February 25, 2011 at 06:51 PM
No monroe taxpayer, this just shows that some people are dishonest. Your position makes no sense at all...the fact is that the Town of Monroe requires permits to be taken out if certain work is done to a house, there is no question about the legally of that. If someone decides that they will not follow that law, then they must be held responsible for the consequences. The cost of the government is an issue of course, but not an issue in this instance.
Mike Ganino February 25, 2011 at 07:11 PM
You should bottle and sell some of that home spun charm of yours, zoo. :) Hope we meet on the next Patch issue. Take care and stay dry.
Jennifer Aguilar February 25, 2011 at 07:18 PM
You shop for a house with a budget in mind, a budget that includes mortgage payment as well as your tax bill. When someone buys a two bedroom, one bath house, they pay a lower cost and lower taxes than if you were to buy a three bedroom, two bath, no debates, no auguring, no getting around it. They are just more expensive because they are bigger, and for that, they are charged more taxes. Why do you people think that it's ok to buy that 2 bedroom, 1 bath house and still pay the same taxes? She paid the lower price because of the size, added on, can make more money when she sells it and you don't think she should be accountable for that space she made? Yes, some politicians bend the rules, does that really make it ok? Politicians need to be held accountable, maybe even more so, just like the rest of us. Part of the problems in this country is that we sit back and just think its ok, they are politicians and it's expected. I want someone who is representing me to be more accountable to her town than that. I want her to reflect what she thinks the smart people who voted for her would do. If this is what the people who voted for her would do, that makes me sad to live in this town, because it's not smart nor does it support the community you live in!
Mike Ganino February 25, 2011 at 07:23 PM
AMEN!! FINALLY some common sense! I had just about given up on the Patch readers. LOL!
Tanga February 25, 2011 at 08:10 PM
Actually, any improvements by a previous owner would have been listed on the field card prior to Hovey purchasing the home. I believe the realtors and homeowners must make a full disclosure of how many bedrooms/bathrooms are in existence when a home goes on the market.
Mike Ganino February 25, 2011 at 08:25 PM
Zoo...you are all over the place or maybe you posted to this site by accident. The budget battle may be on another page.
Jennifer Aguilar February 25, 2011 at 08:30 PM
@ Zoo- what does that have to do with DLH and her not paying taxes on expanding her living quarters????
Bridgeport February 25, 2011 at 08:55 PM
zoo...you make no sense. sorry. Christine E and Jennifer Aguilar already summed up everything I would have said. If you can't agree with those statements, then you are either cheating the system yourself or you have some loyalty to DLH.
Nan February 26, 2011 at 12:06 AM
Michelle Mount, or some one in in power should explore the ways to require debra and her husband to pay permits fees and back taxes. as well as have her kicked out of office. Why should the state THATS US!!! pay her a pension for life for being a crook?
John February 27, 2011 at 04:25 PM
This is now actually a matter for the Health Dept. Hovey added on to her septic tank which is a violation of the Health Code. The Health Dept. can, and has every right to determine if her septic system can sustain an extra bathroom. This might lead to poisoning of ground water and there are people on her street whose wells are failing. Not saying there is a connection, but the health department should make sure. They also have right to come into inspect. They in fact can get a warrant.
Sheila D February 27, 2011 at 10:38 PM
We should all go back and take a look at the comments from the original article back in October: http://monroe.patch.com/articles/democrats-take-the-fight-to-hoveys-house The fact that Councilman Sredzinski and Republic Town Committee chairperson Edgerton danced around the issue in their answers should make a few eyebrows go up. They both stated they had been in her house and tried to be evasive in their answers. There's now way they didn't have full knowledge of that basement and its renovations. If you two are willing to turn your head and knowingly deceive the public over something that is true, how trustworthy are you? What was your intention while you made those deceptive comments? I'm not a huge supporter of Mr. Vavrek's, but even he handled his comments better than those two and kept his nose clean. On another note, the fact that State Reps who work 4 months a year for 10 years get free healthcare and pensions for life is preposterous. Now that's a cost saving measure I'd support being revoked to help balance our budget.
Christine E. February 28, 2011 at 04:41 AM
Actually John, correction. A septic systems sustainability is not determined by number of bathrooms, but rather by number of bedrooms. Common misunderstanding. If your home was originally built as a 2 bedroom, then the septic system was most likely designed for 4 people, or 2 per bedroom. If you added on a 3rd bedroom to your home the sanitarian would want your septic system to have a capacity for 6 people, 2 per bedroom. But you're right, if she added on living space, like a bedroom, the septic would need an upgrade if it isn't big enough.
Charlie Brown February 28, 2011 at 12:51 PM
They seem to feel they can get away with this because they control all the boards and commisions in town. All citizens should be concerned about the abuse of power.
Nan February 28, 2011 at 04:52 PM
Who can we call for help in getting debra to be honest? Also get her out of office, so she doesn't get pension and medical for life. There must be someone in the town hall to get this rolling.And get the board of health to do there job for a change. Also need to wake up councilmen Sredzinski and town comm. Edgerton., to do their job and stop kissing debras *****
Christine E. February 28, 2011 at 05:26 PM
Nan, assessors cannot forcefully enter Debra Lee's home, the same way they cannot enter yours. If she doesn't appeal the assessment, then there's your admission to guilt right there.
Nan February 28, 2011 at 06:56 PM
Christine, I know that. My thing is, she is a liar and a cheat. Do you really want your taxes to give her a pension and medical for life, when she is not honest?
Christine E. February 28, 2011 at 07:34 PM
Nan, I understand your anger. However, you cannot "prove" without an assessor going into the home that any of this speculation is true. Until an assessor has been allowed in, it's all heresay. As I said before, it is in Ms. Hovey's best interest from a popularity standpoint to simply allow an assessor in and put an end to all of the chit chat. BUT, she has the legal right to privacy, and she can say no. I, for one, am grateful to have that right myself and, if she decides to exercise her right, then so be it. There is nothing you can do about it. I think it's time to let it go.
Anna J February 28, 2011 at 07:54 PM
You're right, Christine, Ms. Hovey has no obligation to let an assessor into her home. But, as a public official who presumably cares about her reputation, wouldn't it make sense that if she TRULY had nothing to hide (as she, Mr. Sredzinski, Ms Edgerton repeatedly claimed) that she would have openly and willingly invited the assessor's office-- heck, even the press-- into her home to refute these claims back when they were initially made? The fact that she, A) adamantly denied these claims made by neighbors and Ms. Mount as "bogus" and "election season nonsense" during her campaign, B) proceded to put a toilet on her front yard upon re-election (effectively thumbing her nose at neighbors, constituents and the Town of Monroe), and then, C) now "mysteriously" has a new bedroom and bathroom appearing on her field card adds up to one thing: Ms Hovey is dishonorable and untrustworthy. Is this the type of individual we want representing our community? I happen to think her actions are sleazy and reprehensible.
Christine E. February 28, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Anna, like I said before...I agree that it is in her best interest to let an assessor in her home. And, as I also mentioned, if she doesn't appeal the new assessment, then that's your admission of guilt. My opinion is not based on whether I think she's guilty, I do think she is. I can't prove it, even if i'm angry, and it's her prerogative to exercise her right to privacy if she wants to. Even if it makes her look bad.
Tanga February 28, 2011 at 08:19 PM
I think the reporter really needs to do a follow-up interview with the assessor's office: If the assessor believes work has been done and has updated the field card accordingly, has Ms. Hovey been invoiced for money owed as a result of these improvements? If not, then why? What happens to ordinary citizens when this occurs---are they required to pay anything?
Christine E. February 28, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Good question, Tanga. I wish I knew more about the process, but I simply don't. It would be great if Bill Bittar could find out more. I would also like to know if she plans on appealing the assessment.

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