Pocahontas County Assessor Concerned About State Proposed Assessment Changes

Fearing Senate Joint Resolution 8 would be harmful to Pocahontas County, Tom Lane, the County Assessor, addressed the County Commissioners at their June 6th meeting, about the threat Resolution 8 would represent to the County if passed.

“This resolution, while it didn’t pass last time, is still out there and it could resurface again” said Lane. “It would basically disassemble our County Government altogether. If it was to pass, the county commission would lose one million, one hundred and thirty two thousand and thirty six dollars. That’s a 38.3% loss. You can’t afford that, you couldn’t run the government. It would affect public safety- they wouldn’t have enough to function. It would affect the Assessor’s Office; it would affect all the offices.”

Lane pointed out that the resolution would change the way assessments are calculated resulting in more than a third less tax revenue to the County Government. Bob Martin said he double checked Lane’s figures and that Lane’s numbers are dead on correct. Lane, along with Martin explained how this resolution would change the tax revenues to the County. They said Resolution 8 might at first glance look good to people because it would eliminate the personal property tax on vehicles, but would raise the average home owner’s property taxes while reducing the property taxes on owners of rental properties. Lane says that instead of assessing residential property at 60% of value, the resolution would tax residential property at 100% of value. Thus, Lane pointed out that the owner of a home valued at a hundred and fifty thousand dollars ($150,000) would find their taxes increase by one thousand six hundred dollars ($1,600) a year. This, Lane says, would be impossible for a lot of Senior Citizens living on fixed incomes.

Lane asked the County Commission to write letters to the Governor, State Senators and Delegates opposing this resolution. The Commissioners unanimously voted to not only do that, but to ask all local elected officials, including the Sheriff, the County Clerk, the Assessor and all three municipal Mayors to also sign the letter showing unified opposition to Senate Joint Resolution 8.

Also at that meeting, the Commissioners heard from Beth Little representing the County Water Resources Taskforce. Little said they have been unable to fill the vacant part-time Water Resources Task Force Coordinator position because it is a part-time position and it requires that the applicant be, or become a County Resident. The Commissioners responded that they do not have the money in the budget to make it a full-time position, and feel the job holder should live in Pocahontas County.

The Commissioners approved Sheriff Barlow’s request to use money in his budget to hire Zach Chestnut and Adam Wright as Law Enforcement Deputy Sheriffs with annual salaries starting at $27,500 with benefits and increasing to $30,000 after successfully completing the State Police Academy. They also approved Barlow’s request to hire James Lester as a Process Server at a salary of $27,000 a year plus benefits.

They voted to approve the change of location for Precinct 2 from its present location in Bartow to the Nazarene Church in Frank because of better facilities, including handicapped access, restrooms and kitchen facilities.

They conducted the final public hearing and third reading of the proposed Dog Ordinance and passed it, extending the jurisdiction of the existing dog ordinance to all three county municipalities.

The Commissioners also approved 911 Director Mike O’Brien to make a final payment for the 911 Radio Equipment, which will save a lot in interest costs; for O’Brien to change a part-time Dispatcher position to full-time; and approved O’Brien’s request for a budget revision to cover payroll and insurance deficits.

The commissioners approved a lease agreement with the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation for storage space at the Edray Industrial Park, and approved Dr. Jenifer Rose as the 911 Medical Director.

They re-appointed Cheryl Cassell and Franklin Murphy to three year terms on the Drama, Fairs and Festivals Board and made fiscal year ending budget revisions and resolutions totaling $670,455.00.

The Commissioners changed their scheduled June 20th meeting to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday June 21st because of West Virginia Day holiday and changed their July 4th meeting to Wednesday, July 5th at 8:30 a.m.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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