Boulder state Rep. Levy advances bill to hold down property taxes for wildfire victims

By David O. Williams
Real AspenFebruary 3, 2011
A Boulder state representative wants to ensure victims of natural disasters such as last summer's Fourmile Canyon Fire near Boulder, including Vail Town Manager Stan Zemler, don't get hit with higher property tax bills in the wake of losing their homes.
A home damaged in last summer's Fourmile Canyon Fire near Boulder.

State Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, on Wednesday saw her bill aimed at providing property tax relief for victims of wildfires pass unanimously out of the House Local Government Committee.

“This bill idea was brought to me by a few of my constituents whose homes were badly burned last fall during the Fourmile Canyon fire," Levy said in a release. “The goal here is to protect landowners whose properties or structures have been burned from having their property taxes rise.”

The Fourmile Canyon Fire last summer just outside of Boulder consumed 166 homes, the most of any wildfire in Colorado history. One of those homes belonged to Zemler. Vail has been actively engaged in clearing a defensible space around the town so firefighters will have an area to try to check anticipated blazes.

Some residents and politicians were critical of the response to Boulder's Fourmile Canyon Fire; others questioned the level of fuel mitigation and whether more brush and dead tree removal would have prevented some homes from being destroyed. The Boulder mayor tied the fire to global climate change and the ongoing debate in the state over fuel mitigation related to the mountain pine bark beetle epidemic.

With the number and intensity of wildfires only expected to increase, Levy's HB 1042 will keep victims of the Fourmile Canyon Fire and other natural disasters from seeing their property tax bills increase. If a property is damaged or destroyed, the land will continue to be designated “residential” for the rest of the tax year and then two more years after that instead of being deemed “commercial” and taxed at a higher rate.

HB 1042 now moves to the House Appropriations Committee.

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