State and local governments are taking extra measures to take off some of the financial stresses property owners affected by tornado damage are facing.
Area home and business owners whose properties were damaged in the Memorial Day tornadoes can apply to have their taxable property value reduced to reflect the damage to avoid paying taxes on the pre-storm value of a damaged building. Through a state tax relief program, Montgomery and Greene county auditor’s offices are offering applications for new appraisals to any landowners with damage related to the May 27 storms.
“Their home is their greatest investment in a lot of cases, so (the tornado damage) is going to have a long standing impact on people — people who have been displaced, people who have lost everything,” said Montgomery County auditor Karl Keith.
All applications should be filed with the resident’s county auditor’s office before the end of August to allow enough time for the county to send auditors to the properties.
The current bills being mailed this month will not receive a deduction because they’re based on Jan. 1, 2018 values. But property owners who submit the application will see tax relief in the first have of 2020, Keith said.
Those impacted can download a form on each auditor’s website, visit their auditor’s office or call the office to have a form mailed. Applications must be notarized, which can be done by any notary or at the county auditor’s office, Kieth said. Representatives will also provide forms at some of the relief sites throughout the region.
Between 3,000 and 5,000 buildings have some sort of damage in Montgomery County, Keith said. Over 1,100 buildings were damaged in Greene County, said auditor David Graham.
“It’s going to be very difficult to reach somebody who has just possibly lost their house completely, so we are counting on people who know someone who had tornado damage to make sure they are aware of this program, because it will be impossible for us to reach everybody,” Graham said.
Graham said the program wasn’t used as heavily as he would have liked when a tornado hit Greene County last year.
Both Greene and Montgomery counties were in the midst of a property reevaluation scheduled to be completed in 2020. Street-level and aerial imaging was already completed so many photos in affected neighborhoods will have to be redone, Keith said. There was a provision in the contract with the aerial photo provider to refly any area impacted by an EF4 tornado, which has already been done.
“It’s going to be helpful from the standpoint that now we have both before and after aerial, oblique images of these areas,” he said.
Montgomery County has also said it is waving the permit fees for electric and gas piping through July 31. Property owners are still required to apply for the permits and undergo safety inspections, but will not have to pay the county a fee.
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