From Rents to Garbage, Stamford Releases Data on the State of the City

(Credit: CT Examiner)


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STAMFORD – The Annual Comprehensive Financial Report doesn’t sound like it would contain fun facts.

But the state-required, federally standardized government accounting audit has a statistical section that reveals things residents might be interested to know about their city.

Stamford’s most recent ACFR is a year late because the city has been slow to provide information required in the financial section. The 2022 ACFR is scheduled, finally, to be presented to the Board of Finance Thursday for review, before it is sent on to the state.

In the meantime, the statistics section is telling.

Most notable is the staggering number of housing units that have been created in Stamford since a construction boom began in 2009. According to the ACFR, no other city in the state comes close.

Citing data from the city’s Land Use Bureau, the report says that, between 2009 and 2022, at least 11,730 housing units were built in Stamford. 

As of 2022, another 2,500 housing units were approved or proposed for construction, according to the report.

If only half of the approved or proposed units were built, it would mean that the city created, on average, about 1,000 housing units a year for 13 years. 

Nearly all filled up

According to the ACFR, Stamford apartment buildings were about 97 percent occupied in 2022. 

“The occupancy percentage increase is a result of increased interest from New York City, with people relocating to the state for new jobs, remote work, or less uncertainty during the pandemic,” the report reads. 

But high occupancy came with high prices.

“Monthly rental rates increased dramatically, as much as 18.3 percent in some zip codes” in 2022, according to the report, citing information from the city’s Zoning Department.

As of 2022, rent prices ranged from $1,500 to $2,365 for a studio apartment; $1,595 to $3,686 for a one-bedroom; $1,800 to $6,983 for a two-bedroom; and $2,750 to $8,712 for a three-bedroom, the report states.

The commercial side

If apartment buildings had vacancy rates averaging about 3 percent in 2022, the same was not true for the city’s central business district.

The vacancy rate for buildings in the business district was much higher, nearly 34 percent. 

“Demand for office space in Stamford reflects broader national trends as employers and landlords work to address the changing needs of the post-pandemic workforce,” the report reads. 

The amount of leased commercial space in 2022 totaled 687,647 square feet, a drop from the 1 million square feet leased the previous year, the report states.

One reason is that companies used to lease an average of 200 square feet per employee, but in the work-from-home era they have cut it to 125 to 150 square feet per employee, according to the report. 

Still, Stamford is “Connecticut’s largest business center and one of the preeminent locations for corporate headquarters, ranking within the top 10 percent nationally,” the report states.

The city is “a major retail center in Fairfield County” and a hub of industrial research and development that centers on “chemicals, the electrical and optical fields, electronics, and pharmaceuticals. In addition, precision manufacturing maintains a significant presence,” the report reads.

Bringing in the revenue

In fiscal 2022 the city collected $585 million in taxes. Nearly all of it, $524 million, came from property owners. The levy on business equipment, called the personal property tax, amounted to $34 million. The smallest amount of tax revenue, motor vehicle taxes, totalled $27 million, according to the report.

The biggest taxpayer in Stamford, by far, is real estate developer Building and Land Technology, which has been constructing luxury apartment high-rises in the city’s South End for 15 years and owns other property in the city.

The taxable assessed value of BLT’s property in Stamford totals more than $1 billion, according to the report.

The next-biggest taxpayer, RFR Properties of New York, owns office buildings with a total taxable assessed value of $333 million, a third of BLT’s holdings.

The third biggest taxpayer on the list is Gaia, a New York real estate firm that owns apartment buildings in Stamford with a total assessed value of $325 million, followed by George Comfort & Sons, also of New York, with $273 million in office buildings, according to the report.

Bringing in the jobs

The biggest employer in Stamford is Stamford.

The city and school district together employed 4,662 people in 2022. 

That’s nearly 1,000 more than the next-biggest employer, Stamford Health, with 3,700 people, according to the report.

Charter Communications is third with 1,700 employees, followed by Indeed with 1,180 employees.

The city and school system also were Stamford’s largest employers in 2013, the report shows, but the head count then was much smaller, 3,099. 

So the city and school district had 1,563 more employees in 2022 than they had in 2013, according to the report. 

It also shows that full-time equivalents in the schools outnumbered those in the city by more than two to one. Full-time equivalent refers to hours worked rather than number of employees.

School enrollment flat

As the number of school employees has increased, however, the number of students has fallen, according to the report.

In 2022 the school district had a student population of 16,136, slightly less than in 2015, the report states.

Enrollment dropped in the years before the report was filed. It shows that the number of students in 2022 was about 200 fewer than the previous year, and 500 fewer than in 2020.

Public safety employment dips

Unlike the school district and the city as a whole, the police and fire departments have fewer employees than a decade ago, the ACFR shows.

In 2022, the Stamford Police Department had 311 full-time equivalent employees, compared with 318 in 2013. That’s seven fewer in 2022, according to the report.

In 2022, the Stamford Fire Department had 263 employees, compared with 269 in 2013, according to the report. That’s six fewer in 2022.

Trash tells a tale

Numbers in the report show where the city’s increasing population is having a clear effect – garbage collection.

In 2013, the population of Stamford numbered 126,620 residents. 

That year, the city collected 47,734 tons of garbage, according to the report.

In 2022, the population was 136,309 residents, or 7.6 percent more. 

That year the city collected 69,035 tons of garbage, an increase of nearly 45 percent from a decade ago.

But Stamford residents haven’t gotten better at recycling. The total weight of recyclables collected stayed the same between 2013 and 2022, about 11,500 tons.

The 2023 ACFR was due at the end of last month, so it, too, will be late, city finance officials have said.

Angela Carella

For 36 years prior to joining the Connecticut Examiner, Angela Carella was a beat reporter, investigative reporter, editor and columnist for the Stamford Advocate. Carella reports on Stamford and Fairfield County. T: 203 722 6811.