Tax appeal rulings handed down

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners, acting as the Board of Equalization and Review, handed down rulings on appeals filed on behalf of three residential property owners, one industrial and one commercial venture.

Board changes are in effect for one year. In at least one case where the board denied the appeal, the property owner says he won’t appeal. The board denied the appeal filed by appraiser Randy Reed on behalf of developer Jim Weigle for Weigle’s Vienna Millstone subdivision.

The assessor’s office earlier dropped the value for the development from $700,000 to $569,500. Taxes on the appraised market value of $569,500 is $4,949.

“I’m not surprised they didn’t change it. I’ve spent $5,000 trying to get the county commission to understand that real estate isn’t worth what it used to be. You can’t sell those lots and they just keep sticking it to you. I went out and got a certified real estate appraiser. He’s one of only four in the whole state that’s qualified to do real estate appraising and they wouldn’t even listen to him,” Weigle said. Weigle did not appear at the board hearing on the property appeal.

Weigle said it’s too costly to file an appeal in circuit court.

“You can’t beat them. They don’t understand. They won’t listen to a certified real estate appraiser who has been to school to learn how to appraise property. They don’t understand the certified appraisal. They should overrule the assessor’s office; appraisers aren’t qualified. They have never been in school to learn how to appraise. It’s subjective,” Weigle said.

Weigle challenged the current West Virginia appraisal legislation.

Last year the assessor’s office had an average value on Millstone lots of $20,000 each. This year it’s $13,000. Reed said the subdivision value should be $317,000 by his appraisal. Reed said Weigle purchased the property off Rosemar Road where the subdivision was developed for $30,000 back in 1994.

In 2011, the appraised value on the housing development was $911,932. At the time, assessor’s office personnel said, in part, the increase was based on recent sale of two lots in the housing development for more than $80,000 each. The lowering of the property value last year by the board to $700,000 was done on a 2-1 vote with Commissioner Blair Couch voting no.

The appraised value on residential property on Harris Highway owned by John Piggott will remain the same. Piggott appealed because he ceased having bees on his property, which had afforded him a farm discount.

The assessor’s office had not changed the value on the land. It just went from farmland use to non-farmland use and he lost the farm discount. The farm discount is a tax break given to farmers to reduce the amount of taxes paid on an active farm. The discount is about 82 percent in West Virginia on the land.

A third residential property value was lowered by the assessor’s office. Property owner Glenna Alleman did not appear for the hearing on her house at 3100 Detroit Ave., Vienna. Attorney Bob Fluharty appeared on behalf of the property owner. Appraiser G. David Hartleben, a certified, licensed appraiser retained by Fluharty, set the property’s value at $33,000.

Wood County Assessor Rich Shaffer said he decided, based on the private appraisal and after reviewing the property and its location next to the former Johns Manville site, to lower the value to $30,200. Because the change was made in the assessor’s office, not by the board, it will be the value placed on the books for the property and won’t have to be appealed next year again. The assessor’s office appraisal originally was $43,100 on the lot/home and $7,300 on another vacant lot.

One commercial appeal was filed on behalf of Woodridge Plantation Golf Club in Mineral Wells. No one from the firm that owns the business appeared for the hearing. There was a request to file the same documentation that was filed last year. The board took the same action as last year, lowering the value to $1,202,100. The 2012 value on the golf course property was $1,520,200 reduced last year to $1,202,100. The 2013 market value set by the assessor’s office was $1,454,600.

The board toured Millstone, the vacant Parkersburg Medical Associates building in Parkersburg and looked over some inventory being appealed at Fenton Art Glass Co. in Williamstown on Monday before rendering its final decisions.

The board adjusted the value on the medical office building property at 1122 Market St. to $576,800 based on an offer received for purchase of the property and the current condition of the building. The value on the property had been slightly over $1 million. A certified public accountant representing the property owner earlier told the board it’s worth about half that amount.