Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

January 29, 2014

Mercer property owners could see an assessed value increase

PRINCETON — Mercer County residents who have seen their properties improve in any way could see its assessed value increase by 10 percent or more, but they can speak with county assessors and the Mercer County Commission if they question the new figure.

The Mercer County Assessor’s Office recently sent “Notice of Increase in Assessment” letters to property owners. Owners were told their assessments were being increased by 10 percent or more.

Sending out the letters does not mean that every property owner in Mercer County is seeing their taxes go up by 10 percent, said County Assessor Sharon Gearhart.

“There’s not a big increase,” she said. “There’s not a flat amount that’s going up, but not a flat amount that’s going down. This is a balancing of the sales prices that went up this past year.”

Each property owner’s case is different, Gearhart said. How much of an increase could occur varies from property to property.

“It’s not just a straight over the board assessment raise,” she stated.

The assessor’s office uses a three-year cycle to determine assessments. In 2011, 2012 and 2013, there were sales that showed that the values of property have increased in the county, and the assessor’s office is “trying to keep up with what property values should be,” she said.

Letters were sent to property owners looking at a minimum of a 10 percent increase, Gearhart said. The wording was misleading because it stated, “the property owner’s assessed value is being increased by at least 10 percent and $1,000.” It should have been “by least 10 percent or $1,000.”

An assessment of 10 percent or more was the minimum required for the county assessor to send a letter, she said. A variety of factors could increase a property’s assessed value.

“If somebody had a vacant piece of property worth $10,000, and they added a house or doublewide worth $70,000, their assessment would definitely go up by more than 10 percent because it would be over $80,000 assessed,” Gearhart said.

Improvements such as a newly paved road at the property or getting public water service would also increase assessed value, she stated.

A series of meetings with the board of review and equalization will be conducted in February for people who believe they have a problem with their property taxes. Residents who wish to appear should first call the Mercer County Assessor’s Office at 304-487-8397. A form titled Petition for Review of Property Appraisal will be sent to them, Gearhart said. Residents can also ask the assessor’s office about documentation they should take to the meeting.

When the form is filled out, residents must then call the Mercer County Commission at 304-487-8306 and make an appointment to attend one of the February hearings, said County Coordinator Vicky Reed.

Meetings will be conducted Feb. 3 at 10 a.m.; Feb. 7 at 10 a.m.; Feb. 12 at 11 a.m.; Feb. 12 at 11 a.m.; Feb. 18 at 10 a.m.; Feb. 21 at 10 a.m.; and Feb. 27 at 10 a.m.

Gearhart also encouraged property owners with questions about their letters to call 304-425-7358 and speak with county assessors.

— Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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