Brown wants to bring fairness to the assessors’ office

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Published: June 27, 2022 7:00 am

Kathy Brown brings years of experience as a tax accountant in Litchfield and Burlington and aims to bring a sense of fairness and justice to the Newtown Accountant’s office.

She was hired for the position last November and was thrown into the thick of things almost immediately with a re-evaluation as of February 2022. Brown filled a position that had been vacant for almost a year after Penny Mudgett left for the Oxford assessor position in 2020.

Brown said she likes jobs where she can help people, and while the position of accountant doesn’t always lend itself directly to helping people, she feels it helps everyone by bringing a sense of fairness and treats everyone who comes into her office equally, Newtown property owners. She also likes to work with numbers.

She’s really enjoyed transitioning into her role as Newtown’s appraiser – she’s grown from one staff member to a team of three who are “very good at what they do”. The move allows her to get into the “little things” of the appraisal office, whereas “before I had to do all the day-to-day things that needed to be done”.

Some of the “squeaks” she’s learned include matching the property listing to the vehicle listing and finding homes with no registered vehicles. She noted that people often say they see “a lot of New York license plates” around the city. So when she finds houses with no vehicles, she looks at the situation and “puts things together”. She has been trying to help veterans get their proper tax credits.

Brown is also trying to create “more cross-checks” of the grand list and other documentation in the appraiser’s office to ensure “fewer errors are made.” She streamlines the way the office works and “strengthens things so we can find things when we need them.”

Meanwhile, in her seven months as an assessor, she’s still getting to know the city and still learning about “new roads” she hadn’t heard of before.

“It’s a big city from end to end,” Brown said.

In addition, she and her staff have just completed the certification/recertification courses at UConn Storrs.

Update reevaluation

She is currently in the midst of an updated re-evaluation which she believes has shown large changes in value. While this won’t necessarily result in a change in taxes, it differs from previous revaluations she’s been involved in, which showed a slow decline in property values.

The updated re-rating is based on property sales as well as recent construction work to “show where prices have gone since the last full re-rating in 2017”.

A community reassessment consists of five main phases: data collection, market analysis, assessment, field testing, and informal hearings. In these phases, over 100 tasks are implemented to successfully complete the reassessment.

The appraisal office is currently examining sales of commercial properties for revaluation.

After all five phases are completed, all data, files, records, etc. used in the reassessment are turned over to the Newtown Assessor’s Office.

“This office has the final say,” Brown said.

Anyone who disputes their home’s assessment at this point may appeal to the Board of Assessment Appeals and go through this process.

The new home valuations will take effect after next year’s budget process in July 2023.

With 25 years of valuation experience, beginning as a clerk at Prospect, Brown worked at a company that makes tax software and worked as a tax auditor in Burlington and then 11 years as a tax auditor in Litchfield before joining New Town . She lives in Prospect where she lives with her husband and three cats. She has one son who is married and lives in Oxford.

Associate editor Jim Taylor can be reached at [email protected]

Tax Advisor Kathy Brown

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