Monday, September 20, 2021

Legislators work to address double taxation, property taxes for fire victims

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Echo Mountain Fire

Oregon legislators are working to address problematic taxation statutes victims of wildfires are facing as they try to recover and rebuild.

Rep. David Gomberg (D. 10th District) said owners of affected properties subject to higher property taxes is “horribly unfair” and is meeting with other legislators to consider proposals for a possible special session in November. Gomberg said the goal would be to allow tax relief for victims of declared disasters.

A tax passed in 2007, SB 1036, allows school districts to charge a Construction Excise Tax against new construction so they can provide capital improvements, but those who lost their homes due to the Echo Mountain Complex Wildfire say they are being taxed twice and a replacement home should not be considered new construction.

WIldfire taxes

In a video of the Oct. 13 Lincoln County School District (LCSD) Board of Directors meeting, board members can be heard saying they want to be compassionate toward fire victims but can’t go against the law. One member can be heard saying, “It’s out of our hands.”

After speaking with Legislative Counsel, Gomberg said the Construction Excise Tax is not required and school districts choose to apply it or not. Since LCSD chose to opt in, they are required to apply the tax uniformly and the law leaves no room for flexibility to exempt wildfire victims.

School district staff recommended increasing the excise tax by an additional 10 cents at the Oct. 13 meeting to take effect Jan. 1, 2021. The tax, charged by the square foot, could provide an additional $300,000 to LCSD assuming an average of 1,000 square feet per 293 homes lost in the fire.

Higher property taxes is another problem wildfire victims are facing. In an example Gomberg discussed with Lincoln County Assessor Joe Davidson, a long depreciated manufactured home assessed at $50,000, replaced with a new home of the same size, would now be listed at $130,000, causing much higher property taxes to be paid. Gomberg is working with Rep. Pam Marsh (D. Ashland), whose district lost 1,500 homes, to make “needed changes in our taxation statutes.”

Gomberg said if a special session in November is not possible, lawmakers would bring proposals to January’s regular session.

“When facing disasters, the most important issues are not economic in nature. They are social and human,” Gomberg said.

School officials did not respond to Homepage for comment, but did reach out to elected officials, such as Lincoln County Commissioner Claire Hall, who said the board of commissioners will consider waiving county fees for primary homes destroyed in the Echo Mountain fire at their next meeting Monday.

Previous coverage:

Fire victims rebuilding face double taxation from school district


Justin Werner
I'm publisher of Lincoln City Homepage. Also the web guy, photographer, cameraman, video editor, sportswriter, tech support, beat reporter, cat trainer and e-bike enthusiast. I have a passion for telling people's stories and keeping my fellow citizens informed.

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  1. My take on not breathing tear gas- don’t be there. Really, first amendment rights
    are getting stretched pretty thin at 2 am.
    I’m all for dissent and making statements during the daytime, but after 9pm,
    it’s time to give it a rest. I could very well be out there with a sign somewhere
    on November 5th.

  2. Let’s consider thinking about the possibility of putting together a commission
    to study the issue.
    This tax model is likely one of the reasons, that in my neighborhood, the Olivia
    Beach subdivision was rezoned and got a caveat to shrink lot sizes so they
    could cram in 4 times the houses that were originally proposed by the previous
    owners of the property. Thanks so much.
    My next house might be in a motel parking lot across the street from an airport- it’ll be quieter.

    • Yes Kevin its amazing how our county and city gov. can get more dollars out of the residents buy rezoning areas and throwing codes out the window like spacing of between buildings. They really do amazing things for us don’t they !!!! I recommend not PDX air quality not to healthy with tear gas mixed in.

  3. Let’s get this straight- “consider proposals for a possible session” OKAY.
    Let’s also think about “trying to try” and other stupid comments more
    at home on the Simpsons, which is just about as dysfunctional.

  4. What Gomberg afraid he may loose a vote or two sometime in November is a little late something needs to be done now. Not only for fire victim’s all tax payers are being robed every year buy property taxes from city plus schools especially now at these hard times for a lot of good people.


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Next on the Legislative Agenda: Redistricting

We presently have four districts in the Oregon House that stretch primarily along our coast. But imagine for a moment if Florence were paired with Eugene, Newport and Toledo with Corvallis, Lincoln City with Salem and Tillamook with McMinnville. We'd essentially have more Valley dominated districts and coastal voices would be diminished.



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