New law helps homeowners in disaster

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - In March, Lemmon Valley resident Donna Robinson showed us the flood waters that were threatening her home and her property. You couldn’t drink the water, and the septic was out.

“Couldn't stay at the house anymore,” Donna says.

The county has paid for her to live at apartments close by, but Donna has been told that money will run out at the end of July.

“I believe it is 13 families will have to be out by the end of July and August,” Donna says.

While the disappointments just keep on coming, there has been a recent turn of events that Donna says is more than welcome.

Compare her backyard now to just three months ago; you can see the flood waters have receded. But that water has done some damage on the main foundation of her home.

“The support beam in front of the house from the living room to the bedroom is broken in 2 places. The piers are cracked so there is going to have to be some foundation that needs to be repaired,” Donna says; at least that’s what an inspector has told her.

In the past if Donna had to rebuild, or make improvements under such conditions, her property taxes would have gone up. But with SB 352 signed into law as of June 4, 2017, those taxes will stay where they were before the natural disaster.

In order to qualify, the disaster has to be declared by the governor.
In Lemmon Valley, Governor Sandoval toured the area in March 2017 and called it a "little Katrina." His declaration followed.

Senator Ben Kieckhefer referenced the 2016 Little Valley Fire when he sponsored the bill. In that case, some of the more than 20 homes destroyed in Washoe Valley were more than 50 years old.

To rebuild a house in the area under the old system meant homeowners would be forced from the area as they could not afford the property taxes alone. The county assessor’s office says it endorsed SB352 and worked closed with Kiekhefer in the process.

That office has another tax option for Lemmon Valley residents who have had to evacuate their homes. The office says it will offer a rebate to those homeowners after they’ve been out of their homes for 90 days. Such homeowners will only have to pay property taxes on the time they occupied the house before flood waters forced them out.

For people living in Lemmon Valley who want to find out if they are impacted by this new law or the county rebate program, there is a meeting for them at North Valleys High School Thursday, June 8 beginning at 6 in the evening.