Attorney General's Opinion
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal
May 24, 1994
William J. Cibes, Jr.
Office of Policy & Management
80 Washington Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06106
Dear Mr. Cibes:
You have asked for our opinion as to whether section 9 of 1993 Conn.Pub. Acts No. 93-388 applies to the payments in lieu of taxes made under Conn.Gen.Stat. 12-20a for fiscal year 1993-1994 due in September of this year. Based upon our interpretation of the relevant statutes and public act, we advise you that our answer is "no."
Section 9 of 1993 Conn.Pub. Acts No. 93-388 amends Conn.Gen.Stat. 12-20a by adding real property owned by "free standing chronic disease hospitals," other than such facilities operated by the federal, state, or local government, to the types of tax-exempt real property for which municipalities may be eligible for a state grant in lieu of taxes. This amendment took effect on July 1, 1993. 1993 Conn.Pub. Acts No. 93-388, 12.
Our response is guided by several principles of statutory construction. Noting that statutory grants in aid to municipalities are in derogation of the common law, we must strictly construe such provisions. See, e.g., Yale University School of Medicine v. Collier, 206 Conn. 31, 36, 536 A.2d 588 (1988). Amendments to statutes effect changes in existing law. Waterbury Petroleum Products, Inc. v. Canaan Oil & Fuel Co., 193 Conn. 208, 232, 477 A.2d 988 (1984). The general rule is that statutory amendments affecting substantive rights are given prospective application only. Id.
Within the foregoing framework, we turn to the statutes on which your question is based. Conn.Gen.Stat. 12-20b sets forth the procedure for administering a 12-20a grant. The first step in the process is the municipality's presentation to the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management ("OPM") of the assessed valuation of real property eligible for the grant "as of the immediately preceding October first." This information must be provided by April 1 of the calendar year in which the grant is payable. In your request for this opinion, you state that the properties listed by municipalities on April 1, 1993, "did not include Free Standing Chronic Disease Hospitals."
Tax-exempt real property owned by a free standing chronic disease hospital was not eligible for inclusion in a municipality's request for a grant in lieu of taxes under 12-20a until July 1, 1993. Conn.Gen.Stat. 12-20b clearly limits the property which can be considered as eligible for any particular grant, i.e., the property must be eligible under 12-20a and it must be on the municipality's grand list of the preceding October first. Since grants paid in fiscal year 1993-1994 are based upon municipal submissions to OPM on or before April 1, 1993, and because those submissions are based upon property eligible for a grant on the preceding October first, property owned by a free standing chronic disease hospital cannot be eligible for a 12-20a grant for fiscal year 1993-1994 since such property was not eligible on October 1, 1992.
You also ask whether the recomputation provision1 of 12-20b permits the inclusion of property owned by free standing chronic disease hospitals in the September 1993-1994 fiscal year payment. The recomputation referred to in this section applies to two types of recomputations, neither of which apply to the facts which you have presented. First, the Secretary of OPM may reevaluate the property submitted for a grant.2 A revaluation will result in a recomputation of the grant. Second, in the event of an appeal to the Superior Court of the Secretary's reevaluation, the court may sustain, reverse, or modify the Secretary's reevaluation. This would also result in a recomputation of the grant. Only the second type of recomputation occurs after the January first which follows the date on which the municipality provided its assessed valuation to OPM; any such adjustments in the grant due the municipality are to be paid the following September along with any grant for the current year.
As stated above, no grants for fiscal years 1993-1994 and earlier may be based on tax-exempt real property owned by a free standing chronic disease hospital. Therefore the recomputation provisions of 12-20b cannot apply to grants made for those years.
We trust this answers your questions.
Very truly yours,
William J. Prensky
Assistant Attorney General
1 This provision, which is the last sentence of Conn.Gen.Stat. 12-20b, states:
2 Section 12-20b states, "Said secretary may, on or before the first day of September of the state fiscal year in which such grant is payable, reevaluate any such property when, in his judgment, the valuation is inaccurate and shall notify such municipality of such reevaluation."