Governor signs Schoesler bill offering property-tax relief for residents rebuilding homes ruined by wildfires

Gov. Jay Inslee has signed bipartisan legislation sponsored by 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler that will provide temporary property-tax relief for Malden-area residents and other Washingtonians who are rebuilding homes damaged or destroyed by wildfires last September.

Under Senate Bill 5454, Washington residents who lost a home to wildfire between Sept. 1 and Sept. 19, 2020, will be exempt from paying property taxes on the full value of the original structure for three years, if the home is being rebuilt or physically improved.

The Senate passed the measure 49-0 on March 9. The House approved it 97-1 on April 11.

Nearly 300 homes, including more than 120 residences in or near the Whitman County towns of Malden and Pine City, were destroyed by wildfires that burned different parts of Washington last September.

“I’m pleased this bill has been signed into law because it will help those people across the state who lost their homes in the terrible wildfires last Labor Day,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville, whose district includes Whitman County. “These homeowners lost practically everything, and families and individuals have struggled to recover. Some of them didn’t have homeowner insurance. This bill offers them some temporary tax relief to help ease their financial burden as they try to rebuild their homes and their lives.”

Schoesler thanked the bipartisan group of senators who co-sponsored the bill, including Sens. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick; David Frockt, D-Seattle; Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside; Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley; Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island; Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim; Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley; Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake; and Jeff Wilson, R-Longview.

According to a Spokane news report, 121 homes, eight commercial properties and 94 other structures were destroyed by the Labor Day wildfire in or near Malden and Pine City.

Statewide, 298 homes were lost in the September wildfires. In all, more than 700 structures were lost. More than 600,000 acres burned in Washington during the two weeks after Labor Day.