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Berkeley County's assessed values drop

February 02, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The assessed value of Berkeley County real estate appears to have declined by 6 percent from 2011 and the size of a cushion that has helped offset previous declines — new construction — has plummeted, according to unofficial figures released by Assessor Gearl G. Raynes.

As of Tuesday, the net assessed value of real estate in Berkeley County slipped from $4.1 billion to $3.9 billion for the 2012 tax year, according to Raynes’ office.  And Berkeley County saw a 48 percent drop (about $25.2 million) in new construction assessed values between the 2011 and 2012 tax years, according to Raynes’ office.

While real estate values have now declined for a third consecutive year, County Administrator Deborah Hammond indicated the previous decreases were somewhat offset by the addition of new large commercial developments to the tax rolls. Among the most notable projects were The Commons shopping center near Martinsburg and Spring Mills Walmart shopping center, Hammond said.

New construction assessed value dropped from $52.5 million in the 2011 tax year to $27.2 million for the 2012 tax year, according to Raynes’ office.

With other revenue figures yet to be compiled concerning back taxes and utilities, Berkeley County Council President William L. “Bill” Stubblefield said Thursday that it was too soon to predict how the assessed values could affect the county’s budget or taxpayers.

“We had a decrease last year and we had to be very judicious in how we managed our budget — we’ve been able to stay in the black,” Stubblefield said of the similar drop in assessed values last year.

Based on a “rough” calculation, Raynes estimated a tax loss of $3.1 million as a result of the decline in real estate values, but cautioned that figure did not factor tax rates that are applied to real estate property values in the City of Martinsburg or Town of Hedgesville. 

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