(Photo by John Carroll)
WACO (June 18, 2013)—McLennan County Commissioners voted Tuesday to authorize the county Tax Appraisal District to reappraise homes, buildings and property affected by the April 17 fertilizer plant explosion in West.
If the City of West and the West Independent School District follow the commissioners’ lead, the reappraisals could mean substantial tax savings for the owners of homes and buildings that were damaged or destroyed in the massive and deadly explosion.
An amendment by state Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, to a bill that Gov. Rick Perry signed Friday, cleared the way for the vote Tuesday.
It amends existing state law to allow appraisers to factor in damages to real property that occur after the beginning of each year instead of requiring the owners to pay taxes based on the value as of Jan. 1 of each year.
"It's really an issue where they have suffered...a disaster, and they need relief and so the county is giving them relief,” said appraisal district spokesman Andrew Hahn.
West Mayor Tommy Muska says the explosion destroyed 161 homes, caused major damage to another 52, and minor damage to another 46.
It also destroyed an apartment complex.
Meanwhile Tuesday in West, it was crunch time for any residents who haven’t registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for individual disaster assistance.
Tuesday is the deadline for residents to register.
According to a FEMA report, 832 people had applied for the assistance with as of Sunday.
As of Sunday, FEMA had distributed $1,458,109.20 to West residents according to an agency report.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved $6,898,300 in loans.