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Kanawha county weighs slight levy rate reduction

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Kanawha County commissioners will consider a slight roll back of the county's levy rate, and figures show that property owners here already pay less than those in some other larger counties.

Commission President Kent Carper asked staff members to compile the tax rates for Kanawha, Putnam, Monongalia and Cabell counties.

And the figures show Kanawha residents pay a lower average tax bill annually than those who own property in the other three counties. In some cases, it's significantly less.

"I think this shows the levying bodies here in Kanawha County have great respect for the taxpayer," Carper said.

The average annual tax bill for residential, which is an owner-occupied house, in Kanawha County is $579, according to figures provided by David Fontalbert, chief fiscal officer for the county.

Putnam County property owners pay an average $1,364, according to the same figures. In Cabell County it's $799 per year. In Monongalia it's $777 annually.

There are a number of reasons why Kanawha County property owners pay less, Carper said. The biggest reason is the Kanawha County Board of Education's levy rate is much lower than surrounding counties.

"The Board of Education is doing a good job," Carper said.

The Kanawha County tax rate is higher than Putnam's and Monongalia's and the same as Cabell's. The tax rate for residential property owners in Kanawha County for the current fiscal year is 28.6 cents per every $100 of valuation. Commissioners plan to roll that back to 28.2 cents.

The tax rate for residential property in Putnam during the current fiscal year is 27.7 cents per every $100 of valuation. In Monongalia it's 19 cents per every $100 of valuation.

However, the total tax rate collected by the Putnam County Board of Education is 98.5 cents for every $100 of valuation on residential property during the current fiscal year.

The Cabell County Board of Education collects 95.4 cents for every $100 of valuation for residential property. The Monongalia County Board of Education collects 78 cents for every $100 of valuation on residential property.

The Kanawha County Board of Education collects 69.6 cents for every $100 of valuation on residential property during the current fiscal year. This includes all levy and bond rates, Fontalbert said.   

Board of Education President Pete Thaw was not surprised to hear that Kanawha's lower tax rate had a lot to do with the Board or Education's tax rate.

"We work very hard to keep our tax rate down," Thaw said.

Thaw said the board also capped the excess levy to ease the tax burden for residents and property owners for the upcoming five-year cycle.

However, the school board is looking at a $4.5 million deficit the first day the new excess levy takes place in 2014. However, Thaw noted that he does not propose tax rates based on projections.

"You don't have a surplus until you see it and you don't have a deficit until you see it," Thaw said.

Another reason why Kanawha County's average tax bill on residential property is lower than Putnam, Monongalia and Cabell, is because the average value of a home is also lower, according to the figures provided by Fontalbert.

Fontalbert obtained the average cost of a home in the counties from the U.S. Census Bureau, he said.

The average price of a home in Kanawha County is $87,000 during the current fiscal year. In Putnam County, it's $179,500.

The average cost of a home in Cabell County is $107,000 and $132,900 in Monongalia, according to the figures.

Fontalbert pointed out that there are likely a lot more homes being built in Monongalia, Putnam and even Cabell County than in Kanawha. This can drive up the average cost of a home, he said.

"Newer homes cost more than older ones do," he said.     

Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. Follow him at www.twitter.com/PaulBFallon.  


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