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Prairie Profiles: Same place, different job

Freeborn County appraiser to become county assessor on March 1

After more than a decade as an appraiser for Freeborn County, Jaci Koeppen will become the county assessor as of March 1.

After working as an appraiser in the private sector since 2001, Koeppen started with the county part-time in 2005, helping with election items, taxes, deeds and other work. When an appraiser position opened in the assessor’s office in 2008, her previous education and experience qualified Koeppen for the job.

Koeppen first got into the field while working for her mother, Denise Knutson.

“So I had good training,” she said.

County appraisers and assessors handle residential, agricultural, commercial, industrial and rental property to determine their value, which factors into their property taxes.

Koeppen said the Minnesota tax system can be complex for those not used to handling the process professionally, so she works to explain to citizens how the office determines the property values it does. Another complexity to the system is that multiple offices and organizations have a role in it, including the auditor and treasurer offices, as well as the respective townships and school systems.

Property values are set as of Jan. 2 each year, Koeppen said, and about 1/5 of the county’s properties are evaluated each year in what she called a quintile. Property owners can review their property values up until June each year as a part of the appeals process. Factors such as square footage, quality and location go into determining the value of a property, she said.

For Koeppen, finding different ways to assess values — as not all property is the same — is both one of the most challenging as well as one of her favorite parts of the job.

“I like that I get to get out of the office,” Koeppen said of her job, and said she likes the people she works with and that she’s not always at a desk for all of her work day.

Going forward, Koeppen said she hopes people continue becoming comfortable coming into and asking questions in her office.

“We want to continue on the path we’ve been going down,” she said.

Koeppen grew up in Albert Lea, and said that, while she now lives in rural Northwood with her husband and their three children, she likes keeping close to her hometown.

“I enjoy staying in the community I grew up in,” she said.

 

Jaci Koeppen

Age: 42

Address: rural Northwood

Livelihood: appraiser for Freeborn County; will become the county assessor March 1

Family: husband and three children — ages 15, almost 12 and 4

Interesting fact: her children show pigs and sheep through 4-H and FFA

 

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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