Bill could lead to tax breaks for property owners affected by natural disasters, fires



Legislation proposed to address the continuing fallout of the 2019 Memorial Tornadoes would give county auditors the authority to spearhead the process of reassessing the value of a property that has been damaged or destroyed, likely providing tax relief for the property owners in question.

One of the bill’s most important impacts would be its effect on property taxes. State Rep. Brian Lampton, R-Beavercreek, who originally introduced the bill in 2019, explained that speeding up the process of re-valuing damaged properties would likely grant those affected a brief reduction in their owed property taxes while their homes are being restored.

“Your property values are based on a finished, livable, complete home, and you’re paying tax based on that amount,” he said. “Let’s say the roof is gone due to a tornado. Now, basically, you’re left with a yard. So, that value, instead of being $150,000 would only be $30,000. The taxes then are charged based on the lower amount.”

House Bill 51 would permit county auditors to file the necessary paperwork on the behalf of the property owners to have a property’s value reassessed in the wake of an event such as a natural disaster or fire, removing the burden from individuals who may be experiencing trauma after losing their homes or belongings. The bill would also rescind the section of the current law which states that the property reassessment form must be notarized, eliminating another hurdle in the process. HB 51 would not take away the option for property owners to file the paperwork themselves if they are able.

Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith supports of the bill. Keith stated that the additional options provided to county auditors could be especially beneficial to Montgomery County residents in the future because it’s such a densely populated area.

“The situation is that you hope that you never have to do this, you hope that we never have another natural disaster to this extent,” he said. “(But) in a county this size, with the population centers that we have, these types of things will happen. It will be very helpful to to have something in place where we can be a little bit more responsive.”

Keith noted what a lengthy and arduous process it was to get in contact with affected property owners after the 2019 storms.

“A lot of people had been displaced after the storms, and trying to reach people who had been displaced was difficult,” he said. “My staff and I spent hundreds of hours at remote sites throughout the county ... It would have been a much easier and efficient way of handling the situation had House Bill 51 been in effect back then.”

Current legislation requires the auditor’s office to mail the necessary paperwork to individuals who have been affected. According to Greene County Auditor David Graham, this step in the process led to additional complications following the 2019 storms.

“I did four separate mailings, trying to get people to return the form,” Graham said. “But the only address I have is where the property is located, and the building is no longer there. So it makes it very difficult to get ahold of people.”

HB 51 passed through the House unopposed, after which it was introduced to the Senate and designated to the Ways and Means Committee, where it currently resides. However, Lampton’s office told the Dayton Daily News that the same language was attached to another bill, which they hope will speed up the process. They are optimistic that the measure will progress through both chambers by the end of the month.

On Feb. 9, Lampton spoke to the House Ways and Means Committee regarding the bill.

“This is common sense legislation to simplify the process and alleviate citizens of unnecessary red tape when faced with disaster,” he said. “HB 51 allows us to assist our citizens when they have experienced a traumatic, life-changing event.”

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