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Transfer tax hike is passed

February 21, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

The Jefferson County Commission passed a transfer tax increase Thursday that will generate about $600,000 a year to preserve farmland in the county.

Given rapidly rising land prices in Jefferson County, it will be a challenge to save farmland with that amount of money, said Commission President Jane Tabb, a Leetown, W.Va., dairy farmer who worked on the county's new farmland protection plan.

"It's going to be really tough," Tabb said.

Commissioner Greg Corliss said at least it is a "foot in the door."

On Thursday, the commissioners voted 4-1 to increase the transfer tax to the maximum allowable rate of $6.60 per $1,000 of property value. The county was receiving about $4.40 per $1,000 of land value.

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At the new rate, the buyer of a $100,000 home would pay $660 in transfer taxes.

Increasing the transfer tax is one of several ways of funding the plan.

A property transfer tax is generated when a piece of real estate is sold.

Saving farmland has been gaining interest in the county as the region experiences rapid population growth.

Earlier this year, the commissioners passed a farmland protection act through which farmers would be paid money in exchange for agreeing to save farmland under a protective easement.

Commissioner James G. Knode was the only commissioner to vote against the tax increase. Knode had concerns about the tax because he believes the easier it is to sell and buy property, the better it is for the economy.

Knode was also concerned about the fact that the tax would eat into people's retirement income when they sell property.

The Berkeley County Commission also is considering increasing the real estate transfer tax to pay for a farmland protection plan.

Lavonne Paden, a member of the county's Farmland Protection Board, told the commission earlier this month there are already enough land applications - encompassing more than 1,000 acres - to use the money a new tax would generate.

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