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Jefferson County assessor candidates talk taxes

October 09, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- Rising real estate taxes have raised the ire of many local property owners, and the two candidates running for Jefferson County assessor are acknowledging the issue in their campaigns.

The county assessor's office controls how the value of homes and other property are assessed for preparation of tax bills.

Democrat Angela L. "Angie" Banks, 44, and Republican Gary Dungan, 64, are vying for the four-year-term job in the Nov. 4 general election.

Ginger Bordier has been the county's tax assessor for 30 years, but decided earlier this year she would step down.

The job pays $44,880, but the assessor can earn another $15,000 in supplemental pay for additional duties.

Banks, of 23 Persimmon Knoll in Shepherdstown, W.Va., has been a deputy clerk in the assessor's office for 14 years and said she has received ongoing training from the state Tax Department.

Banks said she understands concerns over rising property taxes and said assessments will decline as the real estate market continues to soften.

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She said assessment of property is controlled to a large degree by state law, but the local assessor's office also has some influence.

Assessments of homes are based on sales of nearby properties and there have been some sales in parts of the county, while there has been virtually none in other areas, Banks said.

If comparable neighborhoods can be found where there have been few sales, perhaps the areas that have had no sales can be looked at closely to determine if assessments can be reduced, Banks said.

Banks is a lifelong county resident. She and her husband, Todd, have three children.

Dungan, of 228 Prospect Ave. in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., said he is not convinced that the tax assessment process in the county is controlled by the state as much as some people claim.

Dungan said his goal is to keep assessments as low as possible in the county, and he is concerned that computer software being used to compute assessments possibly is overassessing property.

If elected, he said he is looking forward to examining the inner workings of the assessor's office and said he has the background to do it effectively.

Dungan said he is an accountant who led audit teams as a senior accountant with KPMG, the world's largest management consulting and accounting firm.

Dungan said because of his expertise, the Federal Reserve Board sought him out to help resolve the savings and loan crisis during the late 1980s and 1990s by serving with the Resolution Trust Corp., a temporary government agency established by Congress to resolve the crisis.

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