Holding Property Tax Rates Down

Throughout the Northern Panhandle, the assessed values of taxable property seem to be going up, largely as a result of the gas drilling boom.

In Marshall County alone, the property tax base has increased by nearly $1.1 billion during the past three years. That includes a $158.2 million increase reported last week by county Assessor Christopher Kessler.

In Ohio County, Assessor Kathie Hoffman reported a few weeks ago that the assessed values on about 5,800 properties will be increasing by 10 percent.

Both Hoffman and Kessler have urged taxing bodies – with special emphasis on boards of education – to lower property tax levy rates.

Marshall County Board of Education members have signaled their intent to lower the levy rate from the current 98 percent to 94 percent. Ohio County board members still are considering the matter.

As we have pointed out previously in calls for local government entities to hold taxes down, their costs increase steadily year after year. But so does the cost of living for the tens of thousands of area residents who pay taxes to support municipalities, counties and boards of education.

Levy rates should be set at the absolute minimum necessary by all taxing bodies. Instead of viewing increases in the value of taxable property as windfalls for local governments and schools, they should take the responsible approach of giving taxpayers a break.