Eric Yost, concerned resident, appeared before the Wetzel County Commission Tuesday morning to express his disapproval over the assessor's plans to contract out field assessment duties to Tyler Technologies.
"I have taken this upon myself, not only because I fear for my future, but for the future of every taxpayer in this county. . . After speaking with numerous people over the past two weeks and learning that they are not aware of what is about to unfold for them and has been perpetrated upon them by one individual, I wish to inform them and convey to the commission just how devastating this can be for our county and each taxpayer who owns land, however large or small."
Yost passed out copies of a letter sent to a Monongalia County resident after their property had been appraised by Tyler Technologies last year. Yost describes the property as located "just five miles east of the Wetzel County line on Route 7, towards Morgantown, in a little community, at an intersection, called Wadestown." The property Yost refers to is an office building located on an 0.87 acre surface in a flood area. The prior appraised value of the property as of July 1, 2010, is $76,100. After the property was appraised by Tyler Technologies, the appraised value increased over 400 percent to $308,000. Yost describes this significant increase as being "beyond absurd and surpasses stupid!" Yost continues on to report that the individual who owns this property has yet to have his hearing and has waited nine months. "Tyler Technologies told him initially that the basis for this value was the fact that he should be able to get the same office rent in Wadestown as people in Morgantown get. Wadestown is more than 25 miles out of Morgantown and is a community of 50 people at the most."
Yost states that he has watched this "fiasco" unfold over the last year in Monongalia County and has seen the grief it has caused the whole county, "from the individuals whose property is going to be lost because they can't afford the taxes, to the governmental entities who cannot afford to spend the money and cannot provide the hours of work that it takes to correct such stupid, unsubstantiated, and ignorant appraisal. Mon County may never recover from this situation."
Yost adds, "This was all perpetrated on the people by the Mon County assessor, who had failed to do his job for years and justified this stupidity by saying the state tax department made him do it. Then he quits. . . I read the report in the Aug. 15 Wetzel Chronicle that we are having the same company appraise Wetzel County under the same lame excuse that we haven't been able to keep up with what the state tax department wants. And we are getting the same excuses from our assessor, who knows of the nightmare in Mon County and wants us to enjoy it also. . . I intend to inform everyone in this county of what is about to unfold for their future."
"We cannot allow one individual to create a financial disaster for our county, because of ignorance and egregious failure on their part to perform the service we elected them to provide. . . After seeing the suffering in our adjacent county, one would have to conclude that this is being perpetrated on us with malicious intent. The individual responsible needs investigated and needs to prove the purposes of this."
All commissioners understood Yost's concerns. Commissioner Scott Lemley voice his concern for the citizens, specifically citing his concern for the detrimental health effects that the elderly could suffer from receiving a letter such as the one Yost referenced. As for the effects that he could suffer from being the elected assessor, Lemley stated, "I don't know what I'll have to deal with. I'll do what I have to do. It's the citizens I'm concerned with. I want to make sure the county is protected."
Commission President Don Mason added to Yost, "We appreciate your comments, and I can respect your concern. We'll do what we can do to make sure the citizens aren't, for lack of a better word, scalped."
In other commission news, the commission approved of Air Evac and ambulance memberships for county employees. Gregory Jadwin of Air Evac Lifeteam noted that a year has passed since the county signed on for membership for its employees but no county employee has had to use the services. He added that country-wide, there are 160 Air Evac locations across 26 states. Jadwin noted that county-wide, 39 flights took place last month, and 27 this month so far. Most of the time, cardiac patients are flown to Wheeling, whereas trauma patients are sent to Ruby. Jadwin stated that the increase in Air Evac flights is due to the increase in awareness. "Everyone is starting to recognize that time makes a difference," he affirmed.
Jim Colvin and Joyce Raper appeared on behalf of the Wetzel County Emergency Ambulance Authority to request that the commission approve the ambulance memberships. Colvin specifically mentioned the connection between Air Evac and the ambulance authority, in that the Air Evac team will put their people on an ambulance with the paramedics if the weather is bad and the patient cannot be flown. This allows the patient to be administered with certain medicines and treatment that they might not be able to receive from paramedics.