County property values drop by $7 million
Elected officials in Morgan County submitted their annual budget requests to the County Commission amid a common refrain – that the county’s budget has no extra money to give out.
County Commissioners have held three scheduled meetings this month to hammer out a draft budget. They will build the revenue side of the budget on a tax base that is worth less this year than last.
The value of Class 2 property in Morgan County – owner-occupied properties – dropped from $725.6 million to $718.9 million, according to the Assessor’s valuation figures.
The value of Class 3 property – commercial and rental properties – also went down slighty. It dropped from $260.3 million to $259.6 million.
Declines in property value add up to a total drop in the county’s tax base value from $985.9 million to $978.6 million. The decline of $7.36 million is a .75% decrease overall.
Despite the drop in value, county officials expect a slight increase in tax revenue from late taxes, said Commission President Joel Tuttle.
During the budget sessions, Tuttle stressed this is his first year spearheading budget preparation. Former commissioner Brad Close, who left office in late December, is an accountant and led budget talks during his six years in the post.
First-year commissioner Ken Reed said it was the first time he had seen the budget document, but the businessman suggested several changes to the way line items were presented on the document.
County officials heard budget requests from each elected official. Several, including the Assessor and Sheriff, asked to add employees in their respective offices to cover required duties. Several also added to training line items for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
Council officials are expected to sign a final budget document on Monday, March 20 during a special budget meeting.
Officials will set the county’s tax rates in mid-April. The proposed budget is built on property tax rates remaining the same, at the maximum allowable rate under West Virginia law. Tax rates have been at that level since 2014.