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Upshur Assessor speaks to Rotarians

September 19, 2012
By Melissa Toothman - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

Upshur County Assessor Helen Phillips spoke to the Buckhannon Rotary Club Tuesday about how her office handles appraisals and assessments.

Phillips told club members that she works with two deputy assessors to determine a value for properties, and she reviewed some of the different types of property assessments, the tax calendar of appraisal, and the assessment and appeals for property taxes.

There has been an increase in the county's appraised value of coal, now at $3.351 million, according to Phillips.

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Upshur County Assessor Helen Phillips addresses members of the Buckhannon Rotary Club on Tuesday.

"We saw one of our mines close down," Phillips said about the previous tax year. "So you never know what's going to happen in mineral values."

The appraisal for oil and gas last year was nearly $81million, Phillips said, adding that there are about 62 oil and gas companies operating in the county. According to Phillips, the Marcellus shale sites are one of the "biggest issues that the appraisers are facing right now." Meetings are still being conducted to find the proper way to evaluate the sites.

"At the present time, we may need to take five acres and use it as our on-site value," Phillips said. "Some taxpayers are not going to be very happy."

Also, Upshur County has 541 taxpayers whose property falls under a farm use classification. Taxpayers who can show they are totally and permanently disabled may qualify for a Homestead exemption. There are 2,750 taxpayers with a Homestead exemption, and those properties have an assessed value of $51,865,534.

"Every year we have to review these people that have signed up," Phillips said.

There is also an income-based senior citizen tax credit that Phillips said was "too hard for the seniors to do," forcing a lot of senior citizens to seek advice from an accountant.

Phillips also reviewed commercial businesses, saying "we have grown a little bit since 1986."

Phillips is serving her fifth consecutive term as assessor, having first been elected in 1992.

However, she began working in the assessor's office in 1972. She received the Assessor's Special Service Award in 2003 and the Ralph C. Boyles Memorial Achievement Award in 2008.

In other news, there will be a blood screening from 6-10 a.m., Oct. 20 and 27 at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.

Contact Melissa Toothman by email at



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