Legislature passes Schoesler bill offering property-tax relief for residents rebuilding homes ruined by wildfires

The Legislature has approved bipartisan legislation sponsored by 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler that would 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, which was passed by the House of Representatives 97-1 today, Washington residents who lost a home to wildfire between Sept. 1 and Sept. 19, 2020, would 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.

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

“I’m pleased to see the Legislature pass this bill that 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.”

Senate Bill 5454 now goes to Gov. Jay Inslee for his consideration.

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.