Balto. Co. bill offers tax relief for Isabel victims

Program set for council OK aims to help homeowners 'get back on their feet'

April 01, 2005|By Staff

Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr., County Council Chair Joseph Bartenfelder and Councilman John Olszewski Sr. today proposed a new property tax relief program to aid victims of Tropical Storm Isabel, set for council approval at a Monday meeting, officials said.

The bill, introduced by Bartenfelder at the request of the Smith administration and co-sponsored by Olszewski, was touted as representing the latest step in ongoing efforts to assist homeowners devastated by the storm, which damaged many area homes in September 2003.

According to officials, about 170 homes in eastern Baltimore County were severely damaged by Isabel's historical floodwaters and immediately removed from property tax rolls. Most of the rebuilt homes increased in value, due in part to new federal regulations, but if the council approves the bill, these homeowners will have the option to apply for a property tax credit to offset their increased tax liability.

To calculate the "flood credit," homeowners should subtract the market value of their home before Isabel from the market value after the home was rebuilt, officials said. Homeowners are eligible to receive 100 percent of the flood credit from 2004 to 2006, and 50 percent from 2007 to 2009. This credit may also be applied to previously paid property tax from 2004 and 2005, entitling homeowners who have completed renovations to tax refunds.

Tax bills for 2006 to 2009 will be automatically adjusted. Tax credit applications must be received by July 30, 2006.

"Many of these homeowners lost their life savings due to the storm, and then took further hits from unresponsive insurance companies," Smith said in a statement. "This will help them get back on their feet as they continue to recover from the storm and its financial aftermath. It's the way government ought to work for its families."

Said Bartenfelder: "I am still amazed by the amount of devastation Isabel caused in Baltimore County. No family should face an undue burden from the government in the aftermath of a natural disaster."

April 1, 2005, 6:04 PM EST

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