Flood damages could lead to tax credits

Staff writer

During their July 30 work session, the Clarion County Board of Commissioners from county legal counsel Christy Logue, who informed the board of a potential tax credit for those whose property suffered July 19 flood damage.

Logue told commissioners Ted Tharan, Wayne Brosius and Ed Heasley the county assessment office would need to make local property owners aware of a catastrophic loss assessment procedure.

Logue explained the parameters of who is eligible for a tax credit under through the assessment under certain circumstances.

“If someone has had a catastrophic loss due to the recent flooding that affects the physical state of the real estate and is more than 50 percent of the market value of the property, they can fill out an assessment appeal form and then go before the Clarion County Board of Appeals,” Logue said.

Logue added the tax credit only applies to real estate taxes, and personal belongings within the property do not count towards the market value of the property. Logue also noted assessment appeals are not exclusive to declaration of disaster situations like the flooding, which took place in July. Such appeals also apply to incidents such as a house fire.

Those who plan to file an appeal are given a deadline of six months from the date of the catastrophic loss or to the end of the county fiscal year.

The county assessment office will then review the damaged property, and turn over any data collected to the Clarion County Board of Appeals.

The board will make a decision on the appeal based on the assessment office’s collected information.

In other business:

The county is continuing a search for a new home for its records storage, 9-1-1 emergency services, and maintenance equipment.

A deal between the owners of the old Ford garage and the county commissioners allowed the county to lease the garage since December. The commissioners recently decided to allow an unnamed business to pursue the purchase of the garage located on East Main Street to induce more jobs in the area.

“We were in negotiations but decided we didn’t want to stand in the road of a new business opportunity in Clarion County,” Tharan said. “The taxes on that building are close to $25,000 dollars a year so that was another deterrent.”

When asked whether the commissioners had been in negotiations for a new building, Tharan replied, “That’s very possible.”

Tharan also noted it’s not exactly clear yet how large the next building might be.

“It’s hard to tell when you combine all these areas,” said Tharan. “That building (old Ford garage) was ideal because it was 13,000 square feet.”

“We could do a couple smaller ones (buildings), we could do a building then build another piece on.”

The commissioner noted upgrades in equipment stored in the new building are likely whenever the move occurs.

The commissioners announced the process of adding new bathrooms at the Clarion County Park is nearly finished.

Within a year, renovations of the county courthouse basement are also expected to begin. The public defender’s office, currently located at 16 Grant St. is expected to be moved into a currently vacant corner behind the sheriff’s station, which was previously the site of domestic relations and human resources offices.

According to the commissioners, Deputy Director of the Emergency Management Agency Randall Stahlman and Operations and Training Officer Denny Logue as well as Director of Public Safety Jeff Smathers believe it is going to be at least two weeks before assessments of flood damage throughout the county are completed.

Evaluations of damages began with properties and have since moved on to township roads and bridges.

The commissioners’ next meeting will take place Aug. 13.