Tax appeals board meetings nearing end

PARKERSBURG -The Board of Equalization and Review is drawing to a close.

Wood County commissioners meet as the board annually in February to hear complaints from taxpayers on their property assessments.

Appointments are still available, as needed, for residential property only Tuesday from 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. The board will formally conclude at 3 p.m. Feb. 25. County offices will be closed for the Presidents Day holiday on Monday. Appointments for board hearings can be made by calling the county administrator’s office at 304-424-1976. Taxpayers who would like an informal hearing with the assessor’s office appraisal staff to see if issues can be resolved before making an appointment with the board should call 304-424-1842.

As of Thursday morning, the board had only heard one commercial appeal filed on behalf of Woodridge Plantation Golf Club in Mineral Wells, and two residential ones including Millstone, a Vienna subdivision.

On Thursday, during the walk-in hours, representatives of Parkersburg Medical came in to challenge the value placed on a vacant building at 1122 Market St. Wood County Assessor Rich Shaffer said the current value on that property is just slightly over $1 million. The certified public accountant representing the firm said it is actually worth about half that amount.

Representatives of Fenton Art Glass challenged the $1.6 million value set by the state for personal property, inventory, saying they would like to have $700,000 of that put into obsolete inventory. The state handles all industrial appraisers so they were called in on that case.

Shaffer said he wasn’t surprised by the low number of appeals.

“I hadn’t expected a whole lot this year because we hadn’t raised a lot of values,” Shaffer said.

No requests have been made so far for the more formalized hearings in October, none were filed last year either, that was the first year those could be requested.

“We are working now with a couple of commercial interests that may file for an October hearing. It’s a much more formal proceeding. If the issues cannot be resolved within the office, they will probably need to file for October because of the time constraints in trying to get everything put together before the board closes this month,” Shaffer said.

The only other residential appeal filed was by an individual who lost his farm discount because he not longer met the qualifications for the tax break.

“He had been keeping bees, which qualified him for the discount. It’s about an 80 percent tax discount on the land. It can make a definite difference,” Shaffer said.

“We have not had a lot of informal meetings, the typical questions we usually get on appraisals and assessments. Occasionally we get someone who thinks the value mentioned in the letter is the amount of the tax,” Shaffer said.

The assessor’s office mails out value letters to property owners whose property value has seen a 10 percent or greater increase. There were 1,800 of those letters mailed this time. The assessor said most were for new construction and remodeling.

“The letter lists both the appraised or market value (what your property is actually valued at) and the assessed value (which is 60 percent of the appraised value),” Shaffer said. The assessed value is multiplied by levy rates to calculate taxes. The levy rates vary depending on where the property is located.

Failure to file an appeal before the board during its February session means the taxpayer forfeits the right of appeal. Changes made by the board are in effect one year. Appellants will be notified in writing of the board’s decision and if the property owner disagrees with the outcome, they can appeal to circuit court.