Utilities Add $28 Million to Value

The total assessed value of Marshall County was officially certified this week at $2.72 billion, including an additional $28 million from public utility values.

Marshall County Assessor Chris Kessler certified the assessed value totals to be used by the Marshall County Commission, Marshall County Board of Education and municipalities in the county when determining levy rates. In January, Kessler informed commissioners of a $577.2 million increase in assessed value for the 2013 tax year. The increase followed a $335 million increase for the 2012 tax year, both of which Kessler called “extraordinary.”

However, the initial predicted increase was an estimation that did not include public utility values, which are provided by the state auditor’s office. Following that inclusion and factoring in reductions to assessed values made by the commission during Board of Equalization and Review hearings, the certified value now shows a $605 million increase from last year.

“This obviously is good news for the county,” Kessler said. “This increase is not because of drastic increases on individual property owners and businesses throughout the county, but occurred primarily as a result of new investment and new plant construction activity related to the Marcellus shale industry.”

Kessler previously said new construction at natural gas processing and fractionation facilities was the major cause of the increase in assessed values, as are new wells and pipelines being installed on a monthly basis.

As that infrastructure is installed, it allows companies to begin production, resulting in new taxes on the minerals, as well as taxed royalty payments for lease holders.

With the announcement of the $28 million addition, Kessler took the opportunity to again call on the commission and the board of education to lower their respective levy rates.

“(The increase) again underscores my contention that a reduction in the levy rates … is the appropriate course of action,” he said. “All residents of the county should reap the benefits of the new investment occurring in Marshall County. There is now an opportunity to provide the most meaningful property tax relief for our residents in the county’s history, while still allowing those bodies to retain increased revenue for their operations.”

The county commission has lowered the county levy rate four of the past five years, officials noted. Last month, Marshall County Schools Superintendent Fred Renzella said though the board did not decrease the levy rate for the 2012 tax year, the board would “seriously consider” lowering the rate in the face of increased values and would “not ignore the plea to lower taxes” if possible.