Board of Public Works

Responsibilities

The Legislature chose to assign certain responsibilities to a group of high officials answerable to the voters rather than to a single official or executive agency. Among those important duties are:

  • Approval of the purchase, transfer or sale of state real property
  • Assessment of public utility property
  • Approval of bonds prior to issuance by a state department or institution, county, board of education or municipality
  • Establishment of the levies on property at the rates set by law

Public Utility Assessed Valuations

One of the major roles of the Board related to determining the valuation of public utility property for the purpose of tax assessments. Although most real and personal property is assessed at the county level, public utilities are unique in that their property extends through many counties.

Rather than have each of the fifty-five county assessors attempt to determine the value of the telephone lines and railroad tracks in their respective counties, the property is appraised and assessed by the state.

The owner or operator of every public utility is required to file a report with the Tax Commissioner no later than May 1 itemizing the utility's property for the previous calendar year in the detail set out by law. Those who must report include the owner or operator of every:

  • railroad, railroad toll bridge, and railroad car line transporting freight or passengers;
  • express company or express line used to transport freight
  • oil, gas or water pipeline, electrical or other power transmission line
  • telegraph or telephone line
  • gas company and electric company
  • hydroelectric company for the generation and transmission of light, heat or power
  • water company furnishing or distributing water
  • public service corporation or person engaged in public service business whose property is located, wholly or in part, within this state

Utility companies who have questions about these reports may contact the Tax Department at (304) 558-3940 for assistance.

The Tax Commissioner reviews the reports, obtains any additional information needed, sets out the tentative assessment for each utility and mails the owner or operator of the utility a copy. The Commissioner must deliver the tentative assessments to the Board of Public Works by September 15, and the Board then officially orders the assessments at a meeting to be held no later than October 1.

The Board of Public Works gives notice to the utility companies of their right to contest the valuation before the Board, either in writing or at a hearing or both.

  • Questions about the details of the valuation should be directed to the Tax Department.
  • Written appeals or written requests for a hearing should be directed to:
Attn: Board of Public Works
Secretary of State
Bldg. 1, Suite 157-K
1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
Charleston, WV 25305

As a result of these appeals, the Board may reconsider and cause the values to be altered. After the final determinations are made, the Board certifies the assessments to the Auditor and to each public utility.

Textbook and Instructional Materials Bonds

One bond that is specifically required to be filed with the Board of Public Works, for which the Secretary of State serves as Secretary, is the bond for vendors who contract with the State to sell textbooks and instructional materials to the fifty-five county school systems. Statewide selection of textbooks is conducted through the State Board of Education and selected vendors enter into contracts and execute a surety bond to assure the terms of the contract are met. These documents are public information.

Related Laws

Several sections of West Virginia Code detail the duties of the Board of Public Works:

  • Board of Public Works §5-4-1 and 2

  • General Duties and Power of Commissioner and Appraisers §11-1-2

  • Aiding Board of Public Works, Auditor and Treasurer §11-1-3

  • Returns of Property to Board of Public Works §11-6-1 et. seq.

  • Levies by Board of Public Works; Certification §11-8-8

  • Execution of Contracts and Bonds §18-2A-4


If we may be of any further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us:  304.558.6000   toll free 866.767.8683  email:   AdLaw@wvsos.gov