Assessments still rising on county properties
The Morgan County Assessor's Office is mailing out 6,400 letters this week advising property owners that their assessments will be going up 10% or more.
About 4,500 Morgan County property owners were notified of a 10% or more increase in their assessments last year at this time.
The present increase affects over 40% of the 15,550 parcels of land in Morgan County, said Assessor John Allen Swaim.
Swaim said home assessments have to be within 10% of fair market value. The county has failed state monitorings for meeting fair market value with their assessments for the past 10 years, he said.
Properties end up selling for $50,000 more than they are assessed for, Swaim said.
Swaim said his office only assesses property and does not set tax rates. The actual tax rates are set by the Morgan County School Board, the Morgan County Commissioners, the Bath and Paw Paw town councils and the West Virginia Legislature.
Swaim said assessment values run a year behind and are based on the values for the fiscal year July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007.
Values can go up yearly
Each Morgan County tax district is reassessed every three years. Assessments have the potential of being increased every year if homes of the same age, size and features increase in value, Swaim said.
Assessments are supposed to be 60% of the appraised value, said Swaim. The appraised value is what a homeowner or landowner would sell their property for, he said.
When property owners look at
their assessments, they should ask themselves if they would sell their home or land for that amount, Swaim said.
Swaim acknowledged the downturn in the housing market. But he maintained that things were still booming during the 2006-2007 fiscal year and home prices here hadn't started coming down yet.
Next year's assessments could possibly reflect price decreases as people may be forced to sell homes at lower prices, Swaim said.
He felt the residential population is carrying the weight of the taxes because of the lack of industry here. Other counties in West Virginia have lower property tax rates than Morgan County does, Swaim said.
Swaim advised residents to call
his office at 258-8570 or stop in if
they have questions or concerns
about assessment increases. He will try to explain the reason for the increase.
If the assessor's office can't resolve their concerns, residents have the right to appeal their assessment before the Morgan County Commission during a series of Board of Equalization hearings in February.