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Tax Aid For Disaster-Destroyed Homes Advances

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DENVER (CBS4/AP) – Colorado residents who lost their homes in last year’s floods and wildfires could get property-tax relief under a bill advancing in the state legislature.

“So we can do nothing with this home, we can’t live in it, can’t sell it, can’t destroy it and can’t piece part it out,” said flood victim Terry Mayes.

With the bill, residents who already paid taxes on their destroyed properties would get a refund. Those who have yet to pay will get a letter in the mail saying they don’t owe any property taxes.

Mayes sat before state lawmakers on Wednesday, six months to the day that flood waters took her home in Lyons, everything in it and the land surrounding it, and asked for a little help.

“And not that I don’t want to pay property taxes it’s just that right now we’re paying two $5,000 property tax bills,” said Mayes.

The county assessors will notify the state treasurer which properties qualify for the tax break, and the state will pay the counties.

Mayes and neighbors whose homes were also claimed by the flood pleaded with lawmakers to approve the bill that would waive property taxes for anyone whose home is destroyed in a disaster.

“I like to call this bill the “no insult to injury bill,” said Rep. Jonathan Singer.

Singer, a Democrat representing Lyons, Longmont, Allenspark, Niwot and Hygiene, said it’s not fair for property owners to owe taxes on property that’s gone. But it’s also not fair to ask counties to forgo the money when they need it most.

“I was trying to find a way for the state to pitch in and help out counties as much as helping residents,” said Singer.

Lawmakers voted 11-1 in the House Finance Committee Wednesday to move the bill forward. It will be heard by another committee before being considered by the full House.

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

John Casey, a flooding victim whose home is now on an island, said he knows there will be opposition. He hopes lawmakers will know that recovery will take not months but years.

“Thank you for even considering this opportunity for us to take that extra money and rebuild within our community,” said Casey.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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