CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Lincoln County Assessor Josh Brumfield is trying to correct deficiencies in the county's tax assessments that could cost the Lincoln County school board close to $880,000 in penalties.
Last month, Brumfield met with state tax officials to confirm something he already knew: Lincoln County failed five out of six categories on a statewide tax audit.
But the worst news was failure to comply with a state law requiring counties to bring their tax assessments to 90 percent of market value for properties.
In 2007, Brumfield said, legislators passed the law to try to force counties to more consistently assess property. To put teeth in the law, they decided county school boards would be penalized if assessors fail to reach the 90 percent target.
"The previous administration just didn't keep property valuations close to market value," said Brumfield, who was elected last November and has been in office since January.
"We're way off," he said.
Brumfield said his predecessor as assessor, Tracy Dempsey, did not do much to comply with the state requirement. As a result, Lincoln County's tax assessments stand at an average of about 51 percent of fair market value for homes and other property.
Dempsey, elected assessor in 2008, could not be reached for comment on Monday.
Brumfield said the failure to adjust Lincoln County's tax assessments over the past few years could mean $878,000 in penalties to the county school system.