News

Flood victims could get some financial relief from county

By PAUL BALCERAK

Staff writer

Homeowners in Kitsap County could be in line for a slight tax break to help with flood damages, but officials are warning people not to expect much.

“If any property is involuntarily damaged or destroyed by a storm, fire or other reason, property taxes can be reduced to reflect the amount of assessed value lost,” Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery stated in a recent press release. “Since the annual property tax is a bit less than one percent of a property’s market value, owners of damaged property can expect to receive a refund of one month’s worth of this year’s taxes, or about one twelfth of that one percent of property value.”

For a property valued at about $270,000 — the average home value in the county, Avery said — that refund shakes out to a little more than $220 for 2007.

Since most repairs will be completed in the new year, homeowners could get refunds on their 2008 taxes. For anyone claiming a full refund — complete destruction of their property — the amount could be worth somewhere in the low thousands.

“If (the refund) is only one percent of the damage, it’s probably not going to help much, but people are entitled to it,” Avery said.

Tax adjustments aren’t available to everyone; homeowners have to register with the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management and qualify for relief. “A couple hundred” people have registered already, Avery said, and he expects about 200 to 300 adjustment requests total.

The refund money may be all some homeowners get. Few residents in the county have flood insurance to foot the bill for repairs.

“I probably only have six flood policies in my whole book,” said Jeff Reed, owner of Jeff Reed Insurance Agency, Inc. Reed handles a couple thousand policies total. “It’s pretty uncommon.”

General Insurance in Silverdale sent out a mass mailer for flood insurance a few months ago that most people declined. Only about one percent of their clientele has flood insurance, said agent Cindy Gilmore.

Homeowners can apply for tax adjustments anytime they like through the new year.

Damage assessments for those who have registered should begin today.

• Homeowners seeking tax adjustments to cover flood damage can register with the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management by calling (360) 307-5870 or by logging onto the department’s Web site at www.kitsapdem.org.

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