PARKERSBURG - Appeals of property valuation will be heard by Wood County commissioners while they sit as the Board of Equalization and Review beginning Jan. 31 and ending Feb. 25.
The commissioners will convene as the board on Jan. 31, Feb. 4, 7, 11 and 14, from 10 a.m.-noon. If needed, afternoon appointments will be scheduled from 1-3 p.m. Appointments will also be available Feb. 7, from 5-7 p.m. by appointment only. Appointments will be available, as needed, for residential property only, beginning Feb. 19 from 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. concluding at 3 p.m. Feb. 25. County offices will be closed for the President's Day holiday on Feb. 18. The board will not meet that day.
Appointments for board hearings should be made by calling the county administrator's office at 304-424-1976.
Failure to file an appeal before the board during its February sessions means the taxpayer forfeits the right of appeal.
"Taxpayers appealing should ideally have an appraisal from a local appraiser. Short of that, they can bring photographs, and do their own study of what properties are selling for in their area," said Wood County Assessor Rich Shaffer.
Last year the board heard a total of six appeals including three residential properties, one industrial property, a commercial property and a Vienna subdivision.
Shaffer said he encourages taxpayers who have questions or concerns about their property value to contact his office for an informal meeting prior to scheduling a hearing before the board. Such a meeting with the assessor's office can be scheduled by calling 304-424-1842.
"We can meet with them and explain the process and possibly resolve the issues without a board of equalization hearing. Many of the issues are resolved in this manner," Shaffer said.
The letters notifying taxpayers of a 10 percent or greater increase in valuation have already been sent out for the year. There were 1,800 letters mailed out. Shaffer said they were mostly for new construction, and remodeling.
"We found a few areas that had to be increased based on sales, but for the most part, it was new construction," the assessor said.
State code requires the county commission to convene no later than February 1 of the tax year to meet as a board of equalization and review for the purpose of reviewing and equalizing assessments made by the assessor. The board is not permitted to adjourn for longer than three business days at a time, not including Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday until work is complete. The board can adjourn anytime after February 15 and must adjourn no later than the last day of February.
Taxpayers who are not satisfied with the outcome of their appeal to the board can appeal the decision to the circuit court.
Taxpayers also now have the ability to request an October tax appeal hearing. Legislature passed in 2010 and in effect July 1, 2011, allows an October hearing to be set if an appealing taxpayer requests one during the February board meetings. The legislation established the local board of assessment appeals to meet in the fall of the tax year to which taxpayers may appeal as an alternative to the board of equalization and review which meets in February of the tax year. Shaffer noted taxpayers who appeal for fall hearings are still responsible for paying their current tax ticket until a ruling is made, then they are given a refund if the ruling lowers the value.
Taxpayers who appeal during this month's board meeting times will be notified in writing of the outcome of their hearing.