NORMAN — Typically after natural disasters, property can be assessed and adjusted which lowers tax bills for those affected in a timely manner.
This may not be the case for residents in Cleveland County who were affected by recent wildfires. What raises the most concern for David Tinsley, county assessor, is that in this situation according to state statutes, the deadline for making adjustments is May 1.
“There is nothing in the statutes for changes later in the year when it’s destroyed by a fire, or storm, or flooding, or anything like that,” Tinsley said.
The deadline is May 1 because spring is storm season which is usually when most of the tornados occur he said. The assessor’s office is checking with the District Attorney’s office to see what they can do.
“Unless the legislators or governor or anyone says we can do something different then we’re kind of stuck with where we are,” he said.
So what does that mean for those who had property destroyed or damaged?
“If we’re not allowed to make any adjustments for ‘12 then they would receive whatever their tax bill would be (regularly),” Tinsley said.
Those adjustments typically lower individuals’ tax bills but if there is no exception made to the statutes, no change in tax bills will occur.
“We’ll make an adjustment if we can,” he said. “If we’re given the opportunity to.”
Tinsley said he believes the fire was a larger disaster than the tornado this year and it will have a greater impact.
Usually when disasters like this occur he said they receive assistance from different agencies, such as FEMA, that will fly over and assess the damage, on top of assessing property on the ground.
Property owners who have been affected by the fires are encouraged to call the county assessor’s office at 366-0230 if they have not yet been contacted.