Marshall Property Values To Rise

MOUNDSVILLE – Property values in Marshall County are expected to continue to increase in 2014 because of the Marcellus gas boom, with about 8,500 property owners to see at least a 10 percent increase, according to Marshall County Assessor Chris Kessler.

The property values are a reflection of the significant economic growth associated with the oil and gas industry, Kessler said, which has contributed to increases for the past three years.

“The economic growth in the county is great to see, but the reality of the situation is that significant economic growth does cause individual property values to increase,” Kessler said. “Our homes and property are a life-long investment, why would anyone want to see them decrease in value? In our case, most increases are tied to the land value component of everyone’s assessment. (You can) see the tremendous volume of land lease and sales transactions.”

Kessler also attributed the increase to state law that requires all property be assessed at a level of at least 90 percent of valid sales prices occurring in the county.

According to Kessler, the county has fallen just short of the 90 percent requirement for the past two years, but as a result of the county-wide assessment increases, is now at the required level.

Kessler said not every property owner will see a 10-percent increase, since property values are based on several variables such as the characteristics and amount of acreage owned or the differences in lot sizes and location, age, square footage, interior characteristics and sale prices in neighborhoods in the county.

“We have assigned approximately 60 distinct neighborhoods throughout the county,” Kessler said. “Parcels in high growth areas are valued differently than areas not experiencing the same level of growth and sales. Certain neighborhoods in each municipality have experienced different levels of activity.”

Kessler also said property owners should urge the Marshall County Commission and the Marshall County Board of Education to lower the levy rates in order to keep taxes from rising. The board of education recently proposed lowering its excess levy rate from 98 to 94 percent for its next fiscal year, although board members will not vote on the rate until after March.

“The 10 percent increase letters clearly state that the tax bill cannot be estimated for 2014 because the levy rates have not been set yet,” Kessler said. “The simple fact of the matter is that if property values rise, but levy rates are reduced by those entities, each individual’s tax bill does not have to rise and can even be reduced.”

Any property owner whose assessment increased by more than 10 percent will receive a notice in the mail, Kessler said. The last day to be assessed for the 2014 tax year will be Jan. 31 before property books are delivered to the Marshall County Commission.

Every property owner receiving an increase notice can appeal the value at the assessor’s office, Kessler said, as long as the owner has valid evidence the value is not accurate. Additionally, owners are urged to file personal property reports for vehicles and commercial personal property while the commission sits as the Board of Review and Equalization through February.