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Evans says fire levy on tax tickets

BECKLEY — Thousands of tax tickets are in the mail, and more are on the way, reflecting the higher taxes Raleigh County residents must pay to cover the $4 million a year new fire levy, says Assessor Drema Evans.

Voters approved the five-year levy in the May primary election, aimed at creating a fund to help the 13 volunteer firefighting units and the Beckley Fire Department.

“The sheriff just mailed them out,” Evans said Thursday.

“He’s staggering them, mailing out so many thousand each day.”

So far, no one is howling about the added tax burden, she said.

As soon as anyone who owns a home, personal vehicles and boats, or a business place begins to pay the taxes, the fire levy fund will begin to reap the proceeds.

Only a week ago, the Raleigh County Commission hired veteran Beckley Fire Capt. Kevin Price to oversee the fund, since no money can go directly to any of the 14 fire departments.

By law, no money could be collected until July 15.

“They can start paying them right now, as soon as they receive the tickets,” Evans said.

As an example, a $100,000 home, assessed at 60 percent of its real value, translated into about $886 in ordinary property taxes. That same home will cost the owner $54 in fire levy taxes, figured at 9 cents per $100 of assessed value, the assessor noted.

Commercial property of like value would translate into a fire levy tax of $108.

The fire levy computes commercial land at 18 cents per $100 of assessment, as well as personal property. Thus a $24,000 vehicle, assessed at 60 percent of actual worth, is valued at $14,400, and the fire levy tax in addition to the routine tax would be $25.92.

Say a home is valued at $25,000, and the owner qualifies for a homestead exemption of $20,000. That lowers the taxable value to $5,000, and, at the rate of 9 cents per $100 assessment, the fire levy tax would be $4.50. If the home is worth less than the $20,000 homestead exemption, no fire levy tax would be imposed.

Taxpayers are reminded that a discount is allowed on all property taxes, depending on how early they are paid.

“You get a little bit of a discount each month they are paid early,” Evans said.

“You have to pay by Sept. 1 to get a discount.”

Another way of chalking up a bargain is to fill out the personal property assessment form, either by mail or online.

“That saves you another 6 percent,” Evans said.

“If you don’t fill out the assessment form and you come in and we make you up a tax ticket, it’s not up to me. The computer automatically adds 6 percent to your assessment. And that can be quite a bit if you have a nice car.”

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