CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For the second year in a row, Joe Lefevre is seeing taxes on his West Side home go up.
Lefevre, 63, has lived in his home just off Edgewood Drive for most of his life. Last year, his property taxes went up by about 83 percent. This year, the increase is about 18 percent.
The home, which he bought from his parents for $30,000 in 2007, was built in the late 1920s or early 1930s. He said he's received two offers for the property for about that price.
The assessor appraised his property at $55,000 this year.
Because properties are assessed at 60 percent of the appraised value, Lefevre's property was assessed at $33,000 this year, he said. He'll pay about $450 in taxes, an increase of about $50 over last year.
He isn't filing a complaint. It would cost him about $500 to have a private appraiser review the matter.
"I can't spend $500 to save $50," he said. "It's like you're guilty until proven innocent."
Field appraisers for the county Assessor's Office review pieces of property in a given area once every three years, said Steve Sluss, attorney for the office.
However, the appraiser will return to the home before the three-year cycle has run its course if a large number of properties are sold in that area.
"That's the way the law is written," he said.
The Kanawha County Commission, which will convene for the first day of the annual Board of Review and Equalization at 5 p.m. today, has received no formal hearing requests over property tax increases.
But several complaints have been called in.
A total of 27,697 property owners received notification that their property tax assessments increased by 10 percent or more this year. That number is up from the 21,141 notices in 2012.
Areas reappraised this year included much of the eastern part of the county, Kanawha City and parts of South Hills. Targeted next year are Dunbar, St. Albans and other areas in the western part of the county.
Commissioners can overturn a property assessment if they find that the assessor erred, Commission President Kent Carper said.
However, state law requires them to assume the property assessment is correct unless they are provided "evidence that is clearly convincing," Carper said.
"We're not allowed to look at the taxpayer's ability to pay," Carper said. "We're not allowed to look at the hardship on the taxpayer.
"That's in state law."
Carper said he would objectively review any evidence presented by the taxpayer.
At least one commissioner is upset about the increases.
Commissioner Hoppy Shores plans to study each challenge with a critical eye, he said.
"I'm against any increase in taxes," he said.
Shores finds it hard to believe that so many properties saw a 10 percent or more increase in assessments when property values for houses being sold remains the same or is decreasing.
"I just don't see values going up like this in Kanawha County," Shores said.