HUNTINGTON - Cabell County Assessor Irv Johnson has unveiled a new tool to help homeowners estimate their projected property taxes and learn how those dollars are being spent.
Johnson gave a presentation on the new "tax estimator" during a luncheon Tuesday at the Huntington Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. The new tool, which went live Monday on the county assessor's website, is part of Johnson's larger plan to make his office more open to the public.
Earlier this year, Johnson uploaded the county's tax maps online, which keeps people from having to travel to the courthouse and pay fees to perform title searches.
The new tax tool allows people to enter the assessed value of their homes and the tool calculates what the estimated property taxes would be. It also provides a breakdown of how much of that total goes to levying bodies such as fire protection, public improvement, the health department and senior services, among others.
"It will estimate your taxes for you and allow you to do what-ifs," Johnson said. "'What if' I had a homestead (exemption), or, 'What if' I moved from out in the county into one of the cities - because all of those are different."
Tuesday's presentation included Realtors, bank representatives and paralegals who perform title work. Johnson said his office frequently gets questions about estimated property taxes and the new tool seems like a "no-brainer."
Questions mainly focus on property taxes, but Johnson said property taxes are set by legislators. County assessors only appraise the value of someone's home based on market studies and other factors, which determine the amount of property taxes they will pay. Assessors are willing to reappraise a home if people feel it's appraised too highly, he said.
Bill Bissett, president and CEO of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the new tool is also useful for the business community to determine what property taxes might be before moving to the area.
"A lot of people look at government as a mysterious thing, and anytime we can demystify it and help people understand the programs that are available and how they can help the business community, that's good for our membership at the chamber," Bissett said.
To access the new property tax estimator, visit CabellAssessor.com and click on the "tax estimator" tab.
Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.