Schoesler bill would offer property-tax relief for residents rebuilding homes destroyed by September wildfires

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.

Sen. Mark Schoesler has introduced legislation that would offer property-tax relief for those who are rebuilding homes damaged or destroyed by these wildfires.

Under Senate Bill 5454, 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 horrific wildfire that struck Malden on Labor Day last year literally burned down nearly that entire town, leaving more than a hundred families homeless and with barely any possessions left,” said Schoesler, R-Ritzville, whose district includes Whitman County. “Many other families in different parts of Washington also lost their homes to wildfires last September. It’s been a terrible situation for all of them. This bill would help ease their financial burden as they try to rebuild their homes and their lives.”

Senate Bill 5454 has been referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The bipartisan proposal has nine co-sponsors from districts on both sides of the state, including the chair of the Ways and Means Committee, Sen. Christine Rolfes.

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. In all, more than 600,000 acres burned in Washington during the two weeks after Labor Day.

Schoesler represents the 9th Legislative District, which covers all or part of Adams, Asotin, Franklin, Garfield, Spokane and Whitman counties.