Sedgwick County residents whose homes took a hit from a 2012 tornado have until Friday to apply for tax relief.
Brent Shelton, tax system director for the county, told commissioners Tuesday morning that 13 people had applied for help. However, only two homeowners met the qualifications for property tax relief under a law passed this year by the Kansas Legislature, he said.
The county had identified 70 properties that potentially met the guidelines, which were that the property sustained damage greater than 50 percent of its pre-storm value, that insurance proceeds or buyout did not exceed 50 percent of the pre-storm value and that the storm was one Gov. Sam Brownback had declared a disaster. Additionally, the properties had to be owner-occupied. Many of the properties destroyed in Oaklawn by the April 14, 2012, storm were rental homes.
The taxes for those 70 properties were about $4,500 total, Shelton said.
Of the two property owners who qualified for help, Shelton said, one already had paid taxes and will get a credit next year of $102. The other had not paid taxes yet. The county will abate, or forgive, the bill.
A resolution the county approved this year after the state law was passed allowed for help for property owners whose homes were destroyed or substantially damaged in taxable years from Dec. 31, 2011, to Jan. 1, 2014.
The county sent letters to the 70 homeowners, but some came back as undeliverable, Shelton said. The county also sent letters home with children at schools whose parents qualified for help. County staff members attended meetings of the Oaklawn Improvement District, and signs were put up around the damaged area.
“We did everything we could to get the word out,” Shelton told commissioners.
Commissioner Karl Peterjohn said he was “a little disappointed, having seen the devastation down there,” that more people did not apply for tax relief.
Board chairman Jim Skelton said the two homeowners who did qualify were thrilled to not have to worry about their taxes. He emphasized that many of the damaged homes were rental properties that did not qualify under the law.