Delegation to talk tax assessments

February 02, 2006|by TAMELA BAKER


There's only one item on the agenda for this morning's meeting between the Washington County Delegation to the General Assembly and several Washington County Commissioners.

That item is property tax assessments.

Delegation Chairman Christopher B. Shank said he asked Tim O'Rourke, supervisor of the county Office of State Assessments, to attend to "provide us with an overview of trends on property assessments in Washington County."

The delegation heard loud and clear at a public meeting last month that residents are unhappy about soaring property assessments, and Shank said Wednesday that a number of residents have since sent e-mails to the legislators with complaints.


"The assessments are causing financial hardship for a large number of constituents," he said. During today's meeting, the delegation wants to hear "what approach the commissioners feel should be taken to resolve the problem," Shank said.

"We felt something should have been done last year," he added.

Last year, at the commissioners' request, the delegation sponsored legislation to revise the county's excise tax calculation. The bill, approved in the final moments of last year's session, included a provision directing the county government to study the impact of assessments not only on revenues, but on senior citizens and others.

"We worked very hard to accommodate (the commissioners') needs in that legislation," Shank said. "We'd like to hear what they've worked on and what their plans are."

This year, the commissioners asked for legislation to allow them to grant exemptions to the excise tax, but Shank said the legislators won't be talking about that.

Shank said he expected to hear "divergent viewpoints" on how to handle property assessments.

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