PARKERSBURG - Wood County Assessor Rich Shaffer is predicting Wood County's revenues will once again be flat for the new year.
The county commission usually begins work on the budget in February and March. The proposed budget is due in Charleston for review by the end of March. The county, along with the cities, state and board of education set the levy rates in April. The county's fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. The total for the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget was $19,313,381. According to the state auditor's office, more than 60 percent of most county budgets makes up the general revenue.
"For at least the last four years revenues have been relatively flat. That basically means the total value has stayed about the same. Real estate sales have not indicated large increases in value on property. Property values here have not gone down in most areas, they have in some. Sales have indicated values have remained pretty stable," Shaffer said. "We didn't have that big bubble increase like they did in other areas of the country, those areas also saw a big decline as well."
Photo by Pamela Brust
Dean Cottrell, chief appraiser for the assessor’s office, looks over recent property appraisals.
Shaffer said there hasn't been a lot of new business coming into the area. Construction in Vienna, while good news, will not translate into new tax revenue until next year's budget. "It won't go on the books until July 1, which is the beginning of the new assessment period, and the revenue would show up in the 2014-2015 year," Shaffer said.
"In previous years, increases in the tax base as a whole have gone up mostly due to new construction, and when new business comes in there is more competition in the market and home prices usually go up, it's supply and demand," the assessor said.
Shaffer said property values in the area have remained pretty stable. Officials said construction costs have gone up, at least in part due to rising gasoline, labor and transportation costs.
The average price of a home in Wood County now is $115,000.
"We had 84 new homes built this year in the county. Last year there were 78," Dean Cottrell, chief appraiser for the assessor's office, said. The assessor's office revaluates one-third of the properties in the county each year. This year Steele, Harris and Tygart districts were done as well as part of south Parkersburg and part of north Parkersburg, Williamstown and Williams District.
"The numbers of new builds is well below the average we used to see of about 120," Cottrell said.
Cottrell noted the number of real estate transfers is up, but not all those sales are used by the assessor's office to calculate values because they are not all "arms-length" transactions.
Shaffer said he doesn't have a crystal ball, but he's hopeful the economy is going to improve, but what happens in Washington will have an impact on the local economy.