- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

DENVER (AP) - Thousands of Colorado residents whose homes were destroyed in last year’s floods and wildfires are still on the hook for property taxes, something state lawmakers are trying to change with a bill that advanced Wednesday.

“This doesn’t make anybody whole,” Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer said in presenting his bill to lawmakers. But Singer, who represents Lyons, one of the towns hit hardest by flooding, said a couple thousand dollars can go a long way for affected homeowners.

“This at least takes less money out of the pockets of people that could be spending that money to recover from the floods,” he said.

The House Finance Committee passed the bill on an 11-1 vote. It needs to be heard by another committee before being considered by the full House.

Under the measure, residents who already paid taxes on their destroyed properties would get a refund and those who have yet to pay would get a letter saying they don’t owe property taxes.

County assessors would notify the state treasurer which properties qualify for the tax break, and the state would pay the counties so they don’t take a hit on needed revenue.

Legislative analysts have estimated the tax relief would cost the state $2.2 million.

There was little pushback on the bill and most of the discussion from lawmakers focused on the logistics of implementation.

Initially, the bill would have required homeowners to pay their property taxes before applying for a tax credit from the state. But some lawmakers and county assessors argued that would put too much of a burden on struggling residents.

“I think we all agree that if the property is not there, if it’s not usable, it is a slap in the face to continue to charge them property taxes on that,” said Rep. Brian DelGrosso, the House GOP leader. His district in Loveland was also hit by the September flooding, which damaged parts of northern Colorado, starting in the foothills and spreading onto the plains. Nearly 2,000 homes were damaged or destroyed.

Summer wildfires also ravaged the state. The Black Forest Fire in El Paso County alone destroyed nearly 500 homes, the most by a wildfire in state history.

For Brad Roelens, a 23-year resident of Lyons, the tax break would be a boost. The 54-year-old said his father died after the flooding, his mom has been living on Social Security and he has been unemployed until recently.

“In our situation, it’s a tremendous help,” he said.

Roelens said his family’s home was completely destroyed and cannot be rebuilt. They would owe about $1,800 in property taxes this year.

“Unfortunately, this will impact the state some, but I think we should allow for this,” he said.



House Bill 1: https://goo.gl/ToLXTx

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide