Lincoln County school superintendent declares other districts ‘break the law’ by supplying building and construction tax waiver to wildfire victims – KGW.com

30October 2020

The district superintendent stated she wants to assist however can’t provide exemptions to wildfire victims because of state law. Others disagree.

PORTLAND, Ore.– The Lincoln County School District is doubling down on its position to tax wildfire survivors seeking to reconstruct their houses. District Superintendent Dr. Karen Gray said other Oregon school districts are breaking the law by supplying disaster victims a waiver.

” We are 100 % for getting exceptions due to natural dangers and stand all set to do that however we can not till we get legal approval to do so,”said Gray in a written declaration to KGW.”The board can not be asked to break the law even if other

districts do so.” A KGW investigation found numerous wildfire victims might face significant brand-new construction taxes to rebuild their homes. The Building and construction Import tax Tax enables local school districts to

charge for building and construction, if they desire. The tax cash assists accommodate development, so districts can pay for bigger classrooms and enhanced buildings. In Lincoln County, the construction excise tax is$ 1.24 per square foot for new or replacement homes.

Previously this month, community members asked the Lincoln County School Board to provide a waiver for wildfire victims, making them exempt from paying the Building and construction Import tax Tax.

“It’s absurd, “said John Parrott of Otis. Parrott and his household are wishing to rebuild after losing their house in the Echo Mountain fire.”My insurance coverage is only going to cover about two-thirds of what I had and they wish to get $2,000 from me on top of that?” asked Parrott.

RELATED:’They’re kicking you while you are down’: Wildfire victims face school district tax as they attempt to rebuild School board members have actually said they want to assist however can’t supply exemptions to wildfire victims because of how state law is written. Superintendent Gray stated she was told by Oregon state Rep. David Gomberg that school districts do not have the discretion to waive the Building and construction Import tax Tax for wildfire victims. Gomberg stated his info is based on a telephone call with the Workplace of Legislative Counsel. Legislative Counsel decreased to comment. It is unclear if the Lincoln County School District has individually gave its own counsel or any other legal representatives. Superintendent Gray has actually decreased numerous requests for interviews and did not react to an email looking for information. The former state senator who sponsored the 2007 legislation developing the Building and construction Excise Tax suggested the Lincoln County School District is misinterpreting the law. Ryan Deckert described school districts have the leeway to offer waivers.

“I ‘d be truly dissatisfied and shocked if they charged the wildfire victims this fee due to the fact that it would reasonably easy for them not to do it,”said Deckert.

A KGW examination discovered some school districts provide tax waivers for victims of natural disasters. The Greater Albany school district doesn’t charge a building excise tax for”replacement due to fire or flood loss equivalent to or less than the square video footage of the original structure prior to the loss.”

The North Santiam School District waived its building excise tax for victims of the Beachie Creek Fire during an Oct. 15 board conference. The momentary waiver applies to new building within the North Santiam

School District limits up until March 2021. House owners asking for an exemption had to own and inhabit the property at the time of the fire. North Santiam already had an exemption for replacement houses that were equal to or smaller sized than the initial structure. North Santiam Superintendent Andy Gardner informed KGW the district’s Building Import tax Tax exemptions have actually never been challenged. Rep. Gomberg drafted proposed legislation that would allow school districts to waive the construction excise tax for those impacted by a declared natural catastrophe or emergency situation.

If authorized, the waiver would be retroactive for wildfire victims however there is no guarantee when or if the legislation will be approved.” They need to help us now,”said Parrott, standing in his Otis area scorched by wildfire. RELATED: Drone video catches historic wildfire destruction in Lincoln County Source: kgw.com

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