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Man Makes Plea for Tax Relief

February 18, 2009

He wasn't on his hands and knees, but Elm Grove resident Denzel Bibey said he was ''begging for help'' in getting a break on his taxes.

During an Ohio County Commission meeting Tuesday, Bibey, president of the Azalea Court Homeowners Association, told members Randy Wharton, Tim McCormick and David Sims that he needed their assistance in having the Homestead Exemption changed.

Currently, he said, it stands at $20,000 for homeowners 65 years old and older.

Article Photos

Photo by Shelley Hanson
Federal Communications Commission employees Sandy Haase, center, and Sharon Hurd, left, offer assistance to Ohio County commissioners on Tuesday in educating residents about local television stations’ switch from analog to digital service. Also shown is Ohio County Assessor Kathie Hoffman, far right.

According to the West Virginia State Tax Department, the Homestead Exemption, also known as the Senior Citizen Tax Credit, allows for a tax credit based on the amount of taxes paid on the first $20,000 of a property's assessed value.

Bibey noted with the cost of living increasing in addition to his property assessment, senior citizens like himself who live in Azalea Court could use a break.

''We don't have income coming in for these increases,'' Bibey said.

Sims told Bibey the commission has no control over the Homestead Exemption amount. Assessor Kathie Hoffman said she gave Bibey a list of local state senators and delegates to contact so he could lobby for change in the state Legislature.

''A bill has been down there every year for an increase and it never passes,'' Sims noted of the Legislature.

Hoffman said the West Virginia Association of Assessors plans to lobby next month for increases to the tax credit.

''We'll take anything,'' she said.

In other matters, another Second Street resident, Ed Murphy, asked commissioners for help in getting his road repaired.

''It is bad,'' Murphy said. ''It has big ditches.''

Murphy voiced the same concerns about the state of his Elm Grove street as fellow Second Street resident Wayne Hall did during the Feb. 3 commission meeting.

Murphy noted in the past, he used to do the repairs himself.

''When I was younger I didn't mind hauling slag in there, but I'm getting old and I can't do it anymore,'' Murphy said.

Hall had asked commissioners for help in determining who actually owns the road.

He said he was told years ago by assessor's office officials that the state Department of Transportation paid taxes on the property, leading him to believe it also owned it.

County legal counsel Landers Bonenberger told Hall that because of a piece of legislation from 1933, counties are no longer required to take care of roads.

The roads were supposed to become the state's responsibility. However, some streets slipped through the cracks, he said, and now no government body cares for them.

Hall said later that he planned to seek help from Gov. Joe Manchin in the matter.

Meanwhile, Federal Communications Commission employees Sandy Haase and Sharon Hurd talked about television stations' switch from analog to digital television.

They noted consumers or government entities with questions about the switch, which started Tuesday at some stations, could call toll-free at 888-388-2009.

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