Upshur County Assessor Dustin Zickefoose

BUCKHANNON – In an effort to make access to the Upshur County Assessor’s Office easier, assessor Dustin Zickefoose said he is ‘taking his office out to the residents’ in outlying areas of the county to make it more convenient for them to file their paperwork and ask questions.

On Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, Zickefoose and members of his staff will be on hand operating satellite offices at the following locations:

  • 8 to 10 a.m. at Banks District Volunteer Fire Department in Rock Cave
  • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Washington District Community Building in Tallmansville
  • 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Warren District Community Building in Hodgesville

Zickefoose said folks going to these locations on Saturday will be able to complete a multitude of tasks.

“Residents will be able to file their personal property returns, which are due every year by October 1,” he said. “This will be property that is owned as of July 1, 2019. They can also apply for farm-use, which are due by September 1. Since the due date falls around Labor Day, the deadline has been extended by the state to September 3. People can file commercial property returns – any small business or large business can turn those in as well at the satellite locations on Saturday. The deadline for commercial business assessment returns is September 3, 2019.”

Zickefoose said the applications for farm use can be accepted by his office or postmarked by Sept. 3, 2019. He did caution that Sept. 3 is a strict deadline.

Another item residents may apply for at the Saturday satellite locations is the homestead exemption. Zickefoose said the homestead exemption is for folks who are 65 or older or those who are fully disabled.

“Those who are age 65 or older or fully disabled can apply for the homestead exemption,” Zickefoose said. “It gives those approved the ability to receive $20,000 off of their assessed value. It equals out to approximately $175 off of your tax ticket.”

The purchase of dog tags will also be something offered at the Saturday satellite offices.

“Really, anything the Upshur County Assessor’s Office offers at the Courthouse location, we will have with us on Saturday,” Zickefoose said.

He said on Thursday, he spoke with someone from the Farmland Protection Board.

“They will be sending representatives to our Saturday satellite locations to speak with people about the Farmland Protection Program,” he said. “It is a new program, and they will be there to answer questions and help people apply for the program if they desire.”

According to their website, the Farmland Protection Program is a voluntary program that helps farmers and ranchers keep their land for agricultural use and prevents conversion of that land to into land used for non-agricultural purposes.

This year, the Saturday satellite program only includes the Upshur County Assessor’s Office, but Zickefoose said if it is popular, perhaps the Upshur County Sheriff’s Tax Office will set up next year with them, allowing residents to pay their property taxes at the satellite location.

“We didn’t try to tackle this in 2019,” he said. “This program seems to have worked well in the past in larger counties and we are giving it a shot.”

Zickefoose said residents in the Saturday satellite locations should receive a postcard by Saturday informing them of the times and locations of the satellite sites. He said there have also been announcements in local news media outlets, on posters in locations in the satellite areas and on Facebook.

“If it doesn’t work out, it won’t be because we didn’t try to get the word out to everyone,” Zickefoose said. “We want this to be a convenience for the Upshur County taxpayers – we are coming to them. I am looking out on Main Street in Buckhannon, and there are not many parking spots nearby to our Courthouse location, so if we can come out to those folks who work or who cannot get to us by 4:30 p.m., it is worth a try.”

Upshur County personal property and real estate taxes are due by Sept. 1, 2019 (first half) and March 1, 2020 (second half) to avoid any additional fees.

Those taxes are collected by the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, he said.

“They accept cash or checks, and they accept credit and debit cards, but there is a fee for using credit and debit cards,” Zickefoose said. “These can be paid in person at the Sheriff’s Office or online.”

Laura Page, tax deputy with the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department, said residents paying by credit or debit card in the office or online will be charged an additional fee of 2.75 percent on the total of their tax.

Sometimes folks have trouble distinguishing the roles of the Assessor’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department when it comes to county taxes. Zickefoose said as the Upshur County Assessor, his office works to place value on personal property and real estate.

“We place the assessed value on property, which is 60 percent of the fair market value,” Zickefoose explained. “If the fair market value of your home is $100,000, you will be assessed at $60,000 to determine the tax.”

He said the levying bodies – the school board, the county commission and the municipality – set the levies every year.

“The goal of the Assessor’s Office is to be fair and equitable and come to that fair market value,” he said.

The Upshur County Sheriff’s Office collects the taxes that are due, based on the assessments made by the Assessor’s Office.

“The only money we collect in our office is when people purchase dog tags or aerial maps,” he said. “Last year we sold about $700 worth of maps. We sell quite a bit of dog tags.”

Zickefoose said members of his office have ‘boots on the ground’ looking at real estate each day.

“We are required to review the entire county every three years,” he said. “How we do that is we do two districts each year and three districts the last year. Then, it starts all over again. That is our plan and that is our cycle.”

He said he hopes the Saturday satellite sites go well.

“Hopefully, this is catching the eye of people and they will enjoy it,” Zickefoose said. “We hope it is worth our time and worthwhile to residents in those areas and be a convenience.”

Additional information is available by calling the Upshur County Assessor’s Office at 304-472-4650. The Assessor’s Office has a Facebook page and a website at www.upshurcounty.org.