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Giving flood victims a break they deserve

Thursday, September 12, 2013 - Updated: 9:40 AM

The victims of June's heavy flooding in the town of Minden and village of Fort Plain -- along with residents in several nearby counties -- have enough on their plates. The last thing they need is a hefty property tax bill when notices are sent out later this month.

Local leaders have a plan to help ease that burden. On Monday, they gathered at Harry Hoag Elementary School in Fort Plain to announce the expansion of the Flood Assessment Relief Act of 2013.

The original proposal only covered Montgomery County, but the new plan now includes Herkimer, Madison and Oneida counties, along with Niagara County in western New York. All of those areas were officially declared disaster areas after the June 28 floods.

The legislation would allow flood-affected properties to receive revised tax assessments based on lost property value.

If passed, it doesn't mean flood victims won't be stuck paying their full tax bills, but they would be able to seek a reassessment of their properties from their local review board. If approved, the victims would be entitled to a refund based on damage percentages.

Local officials said between 200 and 250 homes in the town of Minden and village of Fort Plain were affected by this recent round of floods. Several homes and business were severely damaged -- some lost for good -- and their owners have struggled to rebuild.

Property taxes are based on the value of a particular plot of land and the buildings on them. Obviously, flood-affected properties are worth much less than they were before June 28, meaning victims shouldn't be forced to fork over the full amount of taxes owed.

This proposal is a no-brainer. State lawmakers should take a break from their break, head to Albany, and give flood victims a break. They deserve it.

     

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