Residents warned of higher assessments
Around 4500 Morgan County property owners were notified of a 10% or more increase in their assessments.
The notification letters were mailed last week and should have been received by now, according to Morgan County Assessor John Allen Swaim. The increase affected about 35% of the nearly 16,000 parcels of land in Morgan County, said Swaim.
Property owners pay taxes on the county assessment of their land and homes. County assessments are 60% of the appraised value, said Swaim. The appraisal value is what a homeowner or landowner would sell their property for, said Swaim.
Everything is based on fair market value, said Swaim. When property owners look at their assessments, they have to ask themselves would they sell their home or land for that amount, he said. Assessed values are usually lower than a selling price, he said.
If a home is appraised at $100,000, the state requires them to be within 10% of that in their estimate of its value, said Swaim.
Call or stop by with questions
Swaim advised residents to call his office or stop by if they have questions or concerns about their assessment increases. They will talk with them and try to explain the reason for the increase, said Swaim.
If the assessor's office can't resolve their concerns, residents have the right to appeal their assessment before the Morgan County Commission during the Board of Equalization hearings in February. They are advised to call the Morgan County Assessor's office first at 258-8570 if they have issues about their assessments.
Board of Equalization
Property owners need to schedule an appointment to come to the Board of Equalization hearings in Berkeley Springs, which are set for Thursday, February 1, Wednesday, February 7, Friday, February 9, Thursday, February 22 and Wednesday, February 28. Regular County Commission meetings are also scheduled for Friday, February 9 and Thursday, February 22.
No appointment is necessary for the Board of Equalization hearings in Paw Paw that will be held on Thursday, February 15 from 3-5 p.m.
Most properties have increased
Swaim said that most county properties have increased in value in recent years. He admitted that occasionally properties do depreciate in value and their assessment decreases, though not very many do.
Assessments have the potential of being increased every year, even if his office is not reassessing your district. They can't raise the assessed value on one property and not raise it on someone else's property that is comparable, said Swaim. Some 95% of the assessed values of county property went up last year, he said.
Residents who are 65 years of age or older can qualify for a $20,000 homestead exemption, said Swaim. Some seniors that have a lower income level may be eligible for an additional $10,000 exemption, said Swaim.
To qualify for the homestead exemption, residents must have been a resident of West Virginia for two years, have a West Virginia driver's license or be permanently disabled.
Residents should apply for a homestead exemption at the Morgan County Assessor's Office between July 1 and December 1, said Swaim.
Swaim is finished now for this year's real estate assessments for Sleepy Creek, Rock Gap and Timber Ridge Districts. Changes could still be made from the Board of Equalization hearings before the books are closed on March 1, he said.
Swaim goes back into the field on March 1 to begin the reassessments for the Cacapon District, the Town of Bath and the Town of Paw Paw. Next year the Allen District and the Bath District will be reassessed.