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Kanawha County Commission rolls back levy rate

CHARLESTON, W.Va. --  Members of the Kanawha County Commission approved levy rates Tuesday night that actually roll back the percentage of taxes property owners will be paying.

Under state law, all government bodies are required to set their tax levy rates today.

In Kanawha County, the levy rate has been set at the maximum allowed by law for several years as county officials struggled with rising health-care costs, an expensive jail bill and a bad economy.

But Dave Fontalbert, chief fiscal officer for the Kanawha County Commission, said several years of belt-tightening and budget cuts had proven effective, and county officials decided it was OK to roll the levy rate back a little bit.

"Things appear to be in pretty good shape," Fontalbert said. He said lowering the levy rate now allows the county to raise it again later if officials get into another financial jam.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper proposed lowering the levy rate from its current level of 14.3 cents per $100 of a homeowner's assessed property value to 14.13 cents, a decrease of a little more than 1 percent. The levy rate for commercial and rental property owners will also be decreased by the same percentage, Fontalbert said.

The rolled-back levy rate will also affect personal property taxes, he said.

Carper said the lower levy rate will cost the county about $500,000 in tax revenue, but county officials have already figured the lower revenue stream into the county budget. "That's half a million dollars back into the economy," Carper said.

But the average homeowner won't see a huge windfall from the lower tax rates. Fontalbert said the owners of a house appraised at $100,000 and assessed at $60,000 will see their tax assessment go down by about $2.

Fontalbert said 33 counties have their levy rates set at the maximum allowed under state law.

The Kanawha County Board of Education also approved tax levy rates on Tuesday.

The rate for Class I property, typically farmland, will be 19.4 cents per $100 of assessed value under the regular levy and 14.91 for the excess levy.

The regular levy rate for Class II, or houses, will be 38.8 cents per $100, and the excess rate will be 29.82 cents.

Regular levy rates for classes III and IV, which include vehicles and business property, will be 77.6 cents, while excess levy rates for those categories will be 59.64 cents.

Putnam County commissioners and school board members also set levy rates for 2014 on Tuesday.

Commissioners slightly lowered the Class I levy rate from last year. It will decrease from 13.85 cents to 13.75 cents per $100 of a homeowner's assessed property value.

Last year commissioners raised the amount from 13.55 cents to 13.85 cents per $100.

The school board levy rate also declined slightly from last year, according to treasurer Chris Campbell. It is down a half-cent per $100.

Staff writers Mackenzie Mays and Kate White contributed to this report. Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.

 


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