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W.Va. tax officials want Lincoln to fix assessments

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- State tax officials want the Lincoln County assessor's office to fix problems in assessing the county's property values.

Last month, the Property Valuation Training and Procedures Commission of the state Tax Department wrote a letter to Lincoln County Assessor Tracy Dempsey. The letter informed the assessor of problems with Lincoln County's tax rolls. Every year, state tax officials monitor county assessors to make sure taxes are being properly valued and assessed.

Jeff Amburgey, chairman of the property valuation commission, told Dempsey that Lincoln County has had problems the past two years with the way some procedures are followed.

In 2011, Lincoln County had trouble with land tables and sales ratios, state tax monitors found.

Counties are required to follow certain formulas in determining tax assessments, and are required to raise assessments by a certain percentage every year as part of a statewide reappraisal.

State Tax Department spokesman Danny Forinash said it isn't unusual for counties to get letters from the state Tax Department asking them to make changes in their assessment procedures. He said only nine of 55 counties passed all areas tax officials monitored.

But the findings do mean that Lincoln tax officials will have to come up with a plan to correct the problems.

"We're leaving it up to them to come up with a plan," Forinash said. "It's basically a series of continuous communications back and forth. These are publicly elected officials, and if it's possible we want them to perform those duties."

Fixing the assessment problems will likely fall to incoming Lincoln County Assessor Josh Brumfield, who takes office in January. Dempsey lost his re-election bid to Brumfield during recent elections. Brumfield could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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