Marshall County Worth $158 Million More

The assessed values of real and personal property in Marshall County increased by $158.2 million for the 2014 tax year – though it could have been significantly more, according to Marshall County Assessor Chris Kessler.

The preliminary Assessed Value Totals for each class of property in the county were provided by Kessler to the County Commission, sitting at its meetings as a Board of Review and Equalization, on Tuesday.

The figure does not include public utility values which have yet to be provided by the State Tax Department, Kessler said.

“The $158.2 million is on top of an extraordinary $605 million increase for 2013, and a $335 million increase for 2012, most of which can be attributed to growth in the natural gas industry in the county related to the Marcellus Shale and the status of the coal, chemical and power industries in the county,” Kessler said. “Once the public utility values are provided by the State Tax Department, the total assessed values of all property in Marshall County it is anticipated the total will be approximately $2.9 billion.”

The total amount is $2,291,271,945 for personal and real taxes in the three classes, which is more than double what it was in 2007, Kessler said.

“This year’s increase, while not at the extraordinary level as last year, still reflects the continuing new investment occurring in the county,” he said. “In fact, were it not for several of the gas processing plants being able to take advantage of the Certified Capital Addition legislation passed by the state Legislature in 2011, values would have increased by another $600 million for this year.”

The Certified Capital Addition legislation values new construction associated with gas processing facilities – totaling more than $10 million at a particular plant site – at 5 percent salvage value of the total new construction cost. New investment in the plants owned by Dominion, Blue Racer, Markwest Liberty and Williams Ohio Valley Midstream totaled more than $900 million at their facilities this past year, Kessler said.

“It seems somewhat unfair for this is only be placed on the books at 5 percent salvage value, which is basically a 95 percent property tax break for these companies,” Kessler said. “The 5 percent salvage value figure will remain on the books for 10 years under the legislation, and personally I don’t think any entity should receive a 95 percent tax break. I would hope the Legislature takes another look at this law and possibly implements a gradual phase out over the 10 year period to address this overwhelming favoritism.”

To make up for the increase being seen by residents, Kessler again called for a reduction in the excess levy rate set by the Marshall County School Board.

“For all county residents to benefit from the Marcellus gas boom, it is past the time for the Marshall County Board of Education to significantly reduce the excess operating levy that it will adopt for the 2014 Tax Year,” Kessler said. “The County Commission demonstrated its willingness to reduce its levy for each of the past several years, but since 70 cents of every property tax dollar that is paid by residents goes to the school board, it is simply time for it to take the taxpaying public into consideration. This value increase could again generate over several million more dollars for the school board if the levy isn’t reduced.”

In December, the board of education issued a proclamation stating its intention to lower the levy rate from 98 percent to 94 percent for the 2015 fiscal year. No action has been taken on that issue as of yet.