Election 2017: Board of Assessment Appeals candidates answer The Press' questions

For Board of Assessment Appeals — which does just what it’s name suggests, hearing property owners complaints that the tax assessor has mis-judged the value of their property — voters are asked to fill two of the board’s three seats. The candidates are Democrat Anne Cutter, incumbent Democrat Jeff Lundberg and incumbent Republican Robert Jewell.

The Press asked on question. Answers appear in the order they were received. Voters can cast ballots for two of the three candidates.

Why would be a good choice to judge property owners’ appeals of tax assessments?

ANNE CUTTER (D): I served for several years on the New Milford Board of Assessment Appeals. We met two sessions a year, both spanned over several weeks and were heavily booked. During my first hearing of vehicle appeals we were using the NADA books. It was awkward and slow. So I obtained the on-line NADA Automobile Data system to check on vehicle assessments. This provided accurate identification of vehicles by VIN number, allowing quick corrections of errors or explanations on why the tax was correct. Accuracy for real estate assessments was by use of fully coded property cards, and access to files in the Tax Assessors office. My understanding of these codes will help with the 2018 property reassessment. Property owners with issues with their taxes should be heard. That’s every taxpayer’s right. The Board's responsibility is to ensure this right is exercised fairly and legally. I look forward to serving you.

ROBERT JEWELL (R): The vast majority of assessment appeals during my two terms as Chairman have related to residential real property—people’s homes.  Home values are based on a number of factors, including the quality of the buildings, the physical characteristics of the land and location. Having grown up here, I know the lay of the land as well as anyone, and as a local real estate and land use attorney, I have extensive experience in representing lenders, property owners and builders, so I work with appraisals and valuation issues every day. I am happy to share this expertise with my fellow Ridgefielders.  With a major revaluation about to hit every Ridgefield homeowner, if history tells us anything, it will be a very busy term for our Board, so knowledge and experience is absolutely imperative. No other candidate is more qualified in that regard than I am.  Thank you.   

JEFF LUNDBERG (D): I was placed on the Appeals Board three years ago due to a vacancy and elected to the Board two years ago. I am now running for a four year term. I found the appeals on homes to be generally focused on the value following an improvement. Having been through this process twice in our home in the last 15 years, I can personally attest to understanding the homeowner’s position.  I believe this experience is important as a Board member must be fair and weigh the Town’s position and the homeowner’s position in our evaluation of each appeal.

I do read the Ridgefield Press each week and look at the homes for sale and review the properties sold and also read the articles on total home sales and other data as found in last week’s edition.  I feel comfortable about the knowledge needed to arrive at a fair decision.