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Putnam lowers property value for outdoors club

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Putnam County commissioners lowered the assessed property value of a hunting and fishing club by more than $100,000 after it didn't apply for the state Managed Timberland Incentive Program this year.

Acting as a board of review and equalization on Tuesday, commissioners heard a plea from the Poca River Hunting and Fishing Club to reduce the amount the county assessor set for 2013.

The club's Garland Bailey told commissioners he was in charge of making sure the forms were turned in to the state Division of Forestry.

The program gives big property tax breaks to many timber owners who promise to manage their timberland for harvesting or recreational purposes.

"I don't know whether they were lost in the mail . . . something happened," Bailey told commissioners. "From now on, I'll hand-deliver it.

"We're barely making it, we can't afford to pay more taxes, we're not making money," he said, noting many of its members are leaving as they retire from DuPont.

In 1959, DuPont employees formed the club, which offers swimming, camping and other outdoor activities.

Putnam Assessor Sherry Troyer Hayes told commissioners that, in previous years, the club has qualified for the managed timberland tax break.

"It's a huge difference," she said.

Commissioners were sympathetic and agreed to change the assessed value of the property from about $170,000 to about $33,000.

"You presented evidence to show a mistake was made," Commissioner Steve Andes told Bailey.

Putnam attorney Jennifer Scragg Karr said after the meeting that it's the job of commissioners to compare last year's property taxes with the new values.

"They knew why it was changed -- because they didn't turn their form in," Karr said.

Also at the meeting, Andes said he was frustrated that newly elected Sheriff Steve Deweese has handed out raises.

"I just think there needs to be justification for that stuff," Andes said. He acknowledged that Deweese can spend his department's budget how he wants.

Deweese has given raises that range between 2 percent and 25 percent, according to Andes.

In a telephone interview, Deweese said he gave raises in the tax office after a woman with more than 30 years in the office retired.

"I filled the position and took the additional budgeted money and disbursed it among the entire department," he said.

Three people were given higher amounts -- the chief deputy of the tax department and two who have more experience and responsibilities than others in the office, Deweese said.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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