Property tax relief program could help homeowners with storm damage

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EASTLAKE - Susan McCullough’s Eastlake home has come a long way since early Tuesday morning when a backyard tree tore through its roof.

"It woke me out of a sound sleep and it was a heck of a boom," said McCullough.

She was still waiting for an insurance adjuster to estimate the cost of repairs as blue tarp covered parts of the missing house. McCullough was hoping her homeowners policy would cover the majority of her expenses but that’s not the only source of financial relief for which she might qualify.

“It’s going to vary by community,” said Lake County Auditor Ed Zupancic.

Zupancic said homeowners in all counties who sustained substantial storm damage to their property might be eligible for a break on their property tax bill.

“This is a property tax relief program,” said Zupancic.

According to the auditor’s web site, the “amount of deduction equals a percentage of the reduction in value caused by the damage or destruction. That percentage is determined by the calendar quarter in which the damage occurred.”

For instance, damage to homes that occurred during the months of April and June would qualify for a deduction based on 75%, houses sustaining damage from July through September would qualify for 50%.

Zupancic said a $100,000 home that required $10,000 worth of repairs resulting from the latest storms to blow through northeast Ohio would qualify for a 75% reduction of the damage amount. That means a homeowner would only pay property taxes on a home value worth $92,500 after the $7500 reduction in value was taken.

“It’s important to point out that this would be on their tax bill for next year, in Ohio you’re always a year behind on your real estate taxes,” said Zupancic.

The final amount would vary depending on a community's individual tax rate but McCullough said any savings beats no savings at all.

"Anything would help," she insisted.