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Berkeley County Council adopts new levy rates

Homeowners could see a slight decrease on tax bills, but commercial property owners might see a slight increase

April 19, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Levy rates unanimously adopted Tuesday by the Berkeley County Council could offer homeowners a slight decline in their tax bills, according to County Administrator Deborah Hammond.

However, commercial property owners might see a slight increase, Hammond said.

Council members Bill Stubblefield, Elaine Mauck and Jim Whitacre voted unanimously to adopt the new rates for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Council members Tony Petrucci and Doug Copenhaver were absent.

The levy rate for Class II property, which includes owner-occupied homes, will be 27.80 cents per $100 of assessed property value, according to county budget documents.

The Class III property and Class IV property levy rates were set at 55.60 cents per $100 of assessed value.

Whitacre said he anticipates the budget will be tight again next year given the continued loss in property values linked to the economic downturn.

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“We are probably going to be faced again with a reduced income budget whenever the new assessments go out,” Whitacre said.

Hammond said this year was the third consecutive year of losses in assessed property value.

The county has projected budget revenue for the next fiscal year to be $24.9 million, down from $26.9 million last year. The fiscal year begins July 1.

“We’re going to have to do it again next year because I do not see one industry going to make up about a million and a half bucks,” Whitacre said. “That’s just my guess.”

Mauck said the budgeting process has come down to counting “nickels and dimes.”

Even with another expected drop in revenue, Whitacre said he is hoping that the county can again avoid a substantial tax increase.

Stubblefield said the council undertook a very deliberative budget making process this year.

“I think we did a very nice job of meeting the needs of the elected (officials) and keeping the levy rate as low as we possibly could,” Stubblefield said.

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