Brown Looks To Bring Fairness To Assessors Office
Bringing years of experience from being the assessor in Litchfield and Burlington, Kathy Brown is looking to bring a sense of fairness and equity to Newtown’s Tax Assessor’s Office.
Hired to the position last November, she was almost immediately thrown into the thick of things with a revaluation beginning in February of 2022. Brown filled a position that had been empty nearly a year, following Penny Mudgett leaving in 2020 for the assessor position in Oxford.
Brown said she enjoys jobs where she can help people, and while the position of tax assessor may not always lend itself directly to helping people, by bringing a sense of fairness and treating all that come to her office equitably, she feels that helps all the property owners of Newtown. She also enjoys working with numbers.
She has really enjoyed moving into her role as Newtown’s assessor — she went from being a staff of one to having a staff of three people under her who are “very good at what they do.” The move allows her to get into the “nitty gritty” of the assessor’s office, whereas “before I’d have to do all the day-to-day things that needed to be done.”
Among the “nitty gritty” that she has gotten to are comparing the real estate property list to the motor vehicle property list and looking for homes without registered vehicles. She noted that people often say they see “lots of New York license plates” in town so when she finds homes without vehicles, she looks into the situation and “puts things together.” She has looked into helping veterans get their proper tax credits.
Brown is also looking to “create more cross checking” of the grand list and other paperwork in the assessor’s office to ensure “less mistakes are being made.” She is streamlining how things work in the office and “strengthening things up so we can find things when we need them.”
Meanwhile, she’s still learning the town over her seven months as assessor and is still learning about “new roads” she hadn’t heard of before.
“It’s a big town from one end to the other,” said Brown.
Additionally, she and her staff just finished taking certification/re-certification classes at UConn Storrs.
She is currently in the middle of an update revaluation, which she’s said has been showing large changes in values. While this will not necessarily result in a change in taxes, it is different from previous revaluations she’s taken part in, which had been showing a slow decline in property values.
The update revaluation is based on real estate sales, as well as current construction, to “show where prices have gone” since the last full revaluation in 2017.
There are five major phases to a municipal revaluation: Data collection, market analysis, valuation, field review, and informal hearings. During these phases over 100 tasks will be implemented in order to successfully complete the revaluation.
The assessor’s office is currently inspecting sales among commercial properties towards the revaluation.
After all five phases are completed, all data, files, records, etc, used in the revaluation are then turned over to the Newtown Assessor’s Office.
“This office has the final say,” Brown said.
Anyone disputing the valuation of their home at this point will be able to file an appeal with the Board of Assessment Appeals, and go through that process.
The new home valuations will go into effect after next year’s budget process, in July 2023.
With 25 years of experience in the assessing field starting with a job as a clerk in Prospect, Brown has worked at a company that does tax software as well as being the tax assessor in Burlington, and then serving 11 years as Litchfield’s assessor before coming to Newtown. She is a resident of Prospect, where she lives with her husband and three cats. She has a son who is married and lives in Oxford.
Associate Editor Jim Taylor can be reached at email@example.com.