Tax appeals board begins property reviews

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners begin meeting as the Board of Equalization and Review today to hear appeals of property valuations.

The board will conclude Feb. 25.

Wood County Assessor Rich Shaffer said so far appeals have been filed and hearings requested on one commercial, one industrial and two residential properties. Appraisals on industrial properties are done by the state and appraisers from the state office appear for those hearings, assessor’s office staff handle the commercial and residential property appraisals.

The commissioners will sit as the board from 10 a.m.-noon today, Feb. 4, 7, 11 and 14 for walk-ins. If needed, appointments can be scheduled from 1-3 p.m. On Feb. 7, from 5-7 p.m. hearings will be handled 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 Presidents 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 session means the taxpayer forfeits the right of appeal.

“Taxpayers should bring proof, ideally an appraisal from a local appraiser. Short of that, they can bring photographs, and do their own study by providing comparison values of properties in the area,” said Wood County Assessor Rich Shaffer.

“Last year new legislation went into effect that allows taxpayers to request a board of assessment appeal for October. No one requested one of those hearings last year. Appointments must be made before the board of equalization adjourns in February,” Shaffer said. “Those October appeals are a little more formal than the board hearings, you probably would want to have an attorney involved, that October hearing is an option for the taxpayer,” Shaffer told the commissioners.

“Any taxes owed on the property have to be paid before they become delinquent or that October hearing is automatically refused. They can’t request that October hearing if the taxes are delinquent, that’s according to code,” Shaffer said.

Changes made by the board are in effect for one year.

Last year the board heard six appeals including three residential properties, one industrial, 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 in February 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 Feb. 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 circuit court.

Taxpayers who appeal during this month’s board meeting times will be notified in writing of the outcome of their hearing.