PARKERSBURG - More than 1,500 notices have been mailed to Wood County property owners notifying them of an increase of 10 percent or more in their property value.
Wood County Assessor Rich Shaffer said 1,531 letters were mailed compared to 1,040 last year, with most the result of new construction.
West Virginia code, instituted during the reappraisal, requires the assessor to notify taxpayers of an assessed value increase of 10 percent or more during the tax year. The increase might be the result of recent sales of similar properties in the area, recent renovations, additions, remodeling or new construction.
"We mailed the notices out in November and December. We send out our own notices instead of having the state do it because the state doesn't send out its letters until mid-January. That makes it difficult for people to address any issues they have with the assessor's valuation prior to the board of equalization," Shaffer said. The purpose of the letters is to alert taxpayers to increases in their property values in the event they wish to file an appeal.
The county commission convenes as the board of equalization and review in February to hear taxpayer appeals on property assessments. During this period, taxpayers who want to file an appeal with regard to their property assessment must do so or forfeit the right of appeal.
Informal meetings are offered through the assessor's office to work out concerns, problems prior to a board hearing if taxpayers wish to do so. To schedule an informal review of property assessments, contact the assessor's office real property division by calling 304-424-1842. To schedule an appeal with the commission meeting as the board at designated times and dates, call the county administrator's office at 304-424-1976.
"A lot of the letters this year were new construction and remodeling. Farm use values also went up a little bit, so some of them were for vacant tracts of land. They went up because they are calculated on what is called capitalization rate and part of that rate is an interest rate based on treasury interest rates. So when interest rates go down, the values go up because the risk is less," Shaffer said.
Of the letters that went out this year, 110 were commercial properties, last year was also 110; letters relating to residential properties this year were 1,421 compared to last year at 930.
The assessed value is 60 percent of the appraised or market value of property.
Shaffer said his office has already received a number of phone calls regarding the letters.
"We have already had a few informal hearings. We went back to the properties and discussed the problems they had with the property and if warranted, adjustments are made," the assessor said.
The number of valuation letters going out the year before last was 1,300 letters; the year before it was 1,800. In 2007, there were 8,400 letters mailed out, in 2006 there were 7,500 and in 2006 there were 8,700.
The requirement for mailing the valuation letters was part of the state's reappraisal legislation passed in the early 1990s. The reappraisal legislation requires the county be reappraised every three years, the reappraisal is done by dividing up one-third of the county which is reappraised 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, according to Dean Cottrell, chief field appraiser for the assessor's office.