The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

January 14, 2013

Property assessments rising after state study

By Steve Keenan
The Fayette-Tribune

— A property tax equalization study performed for the 2010 tax year in Fayette County will result in numerous county residents seeing an increase in their assessments in 2013.

The equalization was part of a statewide tax study that cost about $6 million and utilized outside appraisal firms and real estate companies to monitor the state.

The Fayette County assessor’s office has sent out letters advising those in the county of the assessment of their real property values. The actual tax bill will be realized when the assessor’s office multiplies levy rates — which are determined by the Legislature — by the assessed value (60 percent of the appraisal). Levy rates for 2013 won’t be available until April or May.

“We want people to be patient with us and try to understand our side,” said Fayette County Assessor Eddie Young. “We’re not trying to hurt or ruin anybody.

“We do have a job to do, so we’re just doing it as fairly as we can. If there’s a problem, we’ll correct it.”

In summary, Young said the main focus of the directives from the State Tax Department through the study was that Fayette and other counties had been valuing unsold property less than sold property.

“We have to bring the property not sold or in new construction up to the level of those that have sold,” Young said.

“The findings in your county reflect that your office is performing their assessment duties in a fair and equitable manner,” a Nov. 14, 2012 letter from State Tax Commissioner Craig Griffith to Young read in part. “However, as happens with most studies, there are areas where improvements are recommended by the contractor.”

“... the assessor’s office of Fayette County needs to revise their residential and commercial base land tables and treat sold and unsold properties equally and stop the pattern of sales chasing that occurred in the 2010 tax year,” read a portion of the summary of findings and recommendations for Fayette County. “Out of the five activities involved in this study, the neighborhood review, data collection and sales validation were reasonable.”

The summary suggested that Young’s office address residential neighborhoods with 50 or less parcels and combine them with other neighborhoods. Another proposition was to complete a new modifier study using 40 samples when possible and implement one building cost modifier for all residential neighborhoods, allowing “consistency within property types and development of good land tables.”

A narrative summary of the final report is available at www.wva.state.wv.us/wvtax/propertytax.

— E-mail: skeenan@register-herald.com