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An Ode to Silence: MA Dept. of Revenue, Sen. Brewer & Wonderland, MA

An Ode to Silence: MA Dept. of Revenue, Sen. Brewer & Wonderland, MA

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Published by Craig Shibley
MA DOR's Division of Local Services Chief Marilyn Browne has recently stepped down.
She was lauded for her professionalism and unwavering commitment to the communities she served.
But Browne is the very one who refused to acknowledge certain financial concerns that this community journalist brought to her attention more than a year ago prior to Wonderland's forensic audit.
MA DOR's Division of Local Services Chief Marilyn Browne has recently stepped down.
She was lauded for her professionalism and unwavering commitment to the communities she served.
But Browne is the very one who refused to acknowledge certain financial concerns that this community journalist brought to her attention more than a year ago prior to Wonderland's forensic audit.

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Published by: Craig Shibley on Apr 09, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/27/2013

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APRIL 4, 2013
I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to
 Marilyn Browne
for her exemplary service to the Division of Local Services (DLS) for the past twenty seven years.  As a former mayor, I never fully involved myself in the intricate details of a propertyrecertification cycle. I always relied on the city's assessors to carry out the Bureau of Local Assessment (BLA) statutory requirements. After joining DLS, I credit Marilyn and her team for teaching me the complexities of the process both at the local and BLA level. I've asked her countless questions over the past six years as Deputy Commissioner. She always responded in amanner that made even the most complex concepts understandable. She's been a mentor to meand many DLS staff. Marilyn takes her work seriously. She's a true professional. Her smile can light up a room, andher frown can send an instant message that perhaps a little re-thinking is in order. We've hadcountless conference calls and meetings with local officials on how their community should proceed on a difficult assessing issue. I've never heard her say that we're not going to assist or that a task or obstacle was too great.
She understands the challenges that assessors face
 with limited resources day in and day out and that guides her decision making. Her backgroundas an elected assessor in the Town of Plympton was extremely valuable to her in setting policyhere at DLS. I truly appreciated Marilyn's commitment and support of local government. Fromher position,
she has maintained her steadfast commitment to fairness and efficiencyalways focusing on the idea that our shared duty is to the taxpayer above all else
.
 
 Another major contribution Marilyn has made to the DLS team is her dedication to
City andTown
 , our newsletter. Prior to her appointment as Editor Emeritus, Marilyn oversaw the publication as a monthly newsletter that was mailed to thousands of local officials to a nowtwice-monthly e-newsletter sent to more than 8,500 subscribers. She's served as faithful writer who excelled at taking complicated assessing methodologies and breaking them down intolayman's terms. She encouraged staff to write articles and was always willing to assist them inthat endeavor. Most recently, she embraced the change in format and content that staff andreaders overwhelmingly suggested. Marilyn always spoke at editorial board meetings of theimportance of DLS' unique and important role in providing in-depth analysis on various aspectsof our statutorily responsibilities. Her insight at board meetings will be missed. However, shehas assured all of us that she will continue to read
City and Town
and offer thoughtfulsuggestions.It is an honor for the editorial board of 
City and Town
to dedicate this issue to Marilyn. Toexpress our gratitude, we will be retiring the position of Editor Emeritus upon her departure. I know I can speak for all of the DLS staff and the hundreds of local officials who have workedwith her over the years in thanking Marilyn for what she has done for DLS and the assessingcommunity. Thank you, Marilyn. We are all forever grateful.
Robert G. NunesDeputy Commissioner and Director of Municipal Affairs Nunesr@dor.state.ma.us Perhaps what Mr. Nunes writes of Ms. Browne is true, but this I know to be true aswell: In October 2011 I reached out to her about serious financial concerns pertaining toWonderland, MA 01005’s Assessors Office. I never received a reply.Nothing. This from an individual who supposedly possesses a
steadfast commitment to fairness and efficiency always focusing on the idea that <DoR’s> shared duty is tothe taxpayer above all else…
 
From:
craig shibley [mailto:shibley@charter.net]
Sent:
Thursday, October 20, 2011 9:28 AM
To:
bladata@dor.state.ma.us
Cc:
shibley@charter.net
Subject:
RE: Town of Barre
Importance:
High
 
 Ms. Browne:I am a resident of Barre. My family and I have lived here for eight years.It has recently come to my attention potential
land
valuation irregularities that could beadversely impacting the municipality’s fiscal affairs. The valuations – for bothcommercial and residential parcels – reflect the Assessors Office’s triennial certificationfrom 2010. A casual review of this report shows what appears to be substantialvaluation “swings”.Additionally, the municipality’s so-called “Chapterland” properties, likewise, need tobe closely examined. I have reviewed many documents associated with this program –CH61, 61A, and 61B lands – and in many cases found liens never recorded, roll-backtaxes never paid, right-of-first refusal never offered, forest management plans notupdated, agricultural uses falsely reported, and revenues not confirmed.Furthermore, the Town of Barre recently completed an Open Space Report inconjunction with the Central MA Regional Planning Commission. This reportaddressed a myriad of issues including a comprehensive list of the community’sChapterlands. However, upon further inspection this official report in no wayaccurately reflects
all the lands
under protection. I’d further submit to you that there’ssubstantial abuse occurring.
I am asking the DoR to look into these allegations and perhaps require thismunicipality to retain an outside entity to conduct a comprehensive audit if theclaims herein can be substantiated.
If you are not the individual whom such matters should be addressed then I’d kindlyask you to forward this email to the appropriate party and “cc” me.Please let me know what, if any, action will be taken.Sincerely,Craig P. Shibley151 Butterworth Road*****

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