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Kanawha property tax hike set

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- About 7,000 Kanawha County property owners are about to get letters telling them their taxes are going up by 10 percent or more.

That's far fewer than last year, when 28,000 homeowners and business owners in the county got the dreaded "10 percent" letter.

Officials in the county Assessor's Office send the letters out in January to any property owner whose taxes are going up by 10 percent or more.

Steve Duffield, in charge of commercial real estate for Kanawha County Assessor Sallie Robinson, said state tax officials have been trying to bring property values up statewide.

Over the past few years, state government officials have been pushing county assessors to raise property values to a point closer to the actual market value of the houses or businesses. Duffield said state officials believe home values have historically been too low.

As a result, thousands of county taxpayers saw significant increases in their property taxes last year, with a few homeowners seeing jumps of 100 percent or more. However, Duffield said, "A lot of it was fixed last year."

Duffield said a few of the approximately 460 commercial property owners and about 6,700 homeowners who get 10 percent letters this year still might see some large tax increases but that most will be more modest.

Duffield said there are about 130,000 commercial and noncommercial properties in Kanawha County. Assessors are constantly reviewing them to make sure they are correctly assessed for tax purposes.

Under West Virginia law, property is assessed at 60 percent of its appraised value, to determine taxes. It's the appraised value that tax officials are trying to figure out.

However, Duffield said homeowners and business owners have recourse if they think their tax tickets are wrong. He said property owners should contact the Assessor's Office, at 304-357-0250.

"We're going to review whatever documentation you have, and if you can't resolve it, you have the right to appeal to the Board of Equalization and Review."

That board, presided over by the Kanawha County Commission, also has the authority to adjust tax bills. The board usually starts meeting in February.

The board will meet at noon every Tuesday in February and at 5 p.m. on Thursdays.

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


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