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Heather Sparks, chief tax deputy for the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, attended the Feb. 1 Upshur County Commission meeting to provide a report on the final disposition of the 2022 real property taxes. (Photo by Monica Zalaznik)

County recoups over $420K in delinquent real property taxes for 2022; 179 properties turned over to state

BUCKHANNON – In Upshur County, there were approximately 1,458 delinquent properties during the final disposition of the 2022 real property taxes, according to the sheriff’s tax office.

Heather Sparks, chief tax deputy for the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, attended the Feb. 1 Upshur County Commission meeting to provide a report on the final disposition of the 2022 real property taxes.

“This process [for 2022] starts in May, so in May of 2023, there were approximately 1,458 delinquent properties, and we advertise this list in The Record Delta, according to the West Virginia State Code, which was just published once at that time,” Sparks said. “The next list of delinquent properties was generated in September, and they were advertised as a Class 3 [listing], which was once a week for three weeks, and the September publication list consisted of 813 properties.”

Sparks said she and her tax deputies only had about three weeks to research all the properties due to changes handed down by the state. In previous years, the Upshur County tax office would have had about six weeks.

“We pull back cards in the Assessor’s Office to verify any splits in ownerships so we can make sure we are notifying everyone; we really try to research every aspect of the properties to make sure all of the taxpayers are being notified,” Sparks said. “Once we’re confident with that information, we prepare the certified letters, and we sent right about 1,000 certified letters out by Sep. 30, 2023.”

Before the certification to the state, 1,215 properties were redeemed out of the original 1,458 delinquent properties, and the taxes from those redemptions amounted to about $424,000.

“I did have to suspend 64 properties, which totaled $551 in taxes, mainly gas royalties,” Sparks said. “On Nov. 1, there were 179 properties totaling $21,260 in taxes that I certified to the state of West Virginia, and at this point, the state is holding on to those properties, and they will do their own publication list by March 1, 2024. They will send out certified letters and then they will hold their land sale sometime between April 1 and June 1 of this year.”

Sparks said the state took over the land sale last year, and she was pleasantly surprised by how smoothly it went.

“It went well; they sold about 175 properties, but they went through it in about an hour-and-a-half, and we have some redemptions for those,” Sparks said. “We were really reluctant and scared, but it’s going well, so we don’t really have any complaints.”

Sparks said citizens have plenty of time to redeem their properties if they want to. They must contact the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office, Tax Land Division. The number is 1-888-509-6568, and the auditor’s office will let individuals know what they owe and the steps they must take to get those properties back before they are sold.

In other Upshur County news:

The commission approved and signed two Sworn Statements of Expenditures for funds received from the Division of Justice & Community Services for $7,992 and $161,500 for expenditures incurred in FY 2022.

The commission approved adopting a policy extending emergency absentee voting.

The commission approved the number of election officials and election commissioners for the May 14, 2024 Primary.

The commission approved the number of sets of emergency absentee voting commissioners for the May 14, 2024 Primary Election.

The commission elected Kristie Tenney to represent Upshur County on the West Virginia First Regional Governance Board, a private, non-stock, 501(c)(3) charitable corporation set up to fulfill the requirement outlined under the Memorandum of Understanding that details the West Virginia Opioid Settlement disbursement process.

The commission approved a revision to the Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility volunteer application form to include a provision allowing for removal from the volunteer register if inactive for a period of two years.

The board approved a request from J. Michael Coffman, Sheriff of Upshur County, requesting approval to hire Timothy R. Hinkle, as a fill-in Court Security Officer, effective Feb. 4, 2024.

The commission approved of Meredith R. Cotrell, a West Virginia Wesleyan Service Scholar, to volunteer in the Upshur County Commission Administrative Office.

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