City of Richmond may relax rules for storm victim relief

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The storm totals from Irene are in for Richmond: more than $12-million in damage to homes. Most of that was caused by the 656 trees that split in half...often hitting homes.

If a tree slammed into your house and damaged more than 20% of its value, you may qualify for tax relief. Problem is: under the current rules, your home must be re-assessed before you clean up the damage and repair it.

"The assessor might not have been able to get to somebody's house before the repairs and reconstruction work began," said City Council President Kathy Graziano.

Graziano is asking the city to allow property owners who may not have been aware of the program to apply now through pictures and insurance papers.

"It's worth looking at. It's worth talking to the assessor it's worth calling the assessor," she said.

The city's already cleaned up more than 1,000 tractor trailers loads of debris and answered a third of the 1300 requests for service.

The mayor, who's taken some heat from some citizens and a few council members about the city's response to the storm, gave his own reaction today.

"Overall city workers did a good job. But in any disaster there's always room for improvement," said Mayor Dwight Jones.

The mayor's requesting the city re-write its emergency management plan, including an assessment of Irene and what the city could do better.

The proposal to relax these rules will be voted on Monday and could be voted on in about two weeks. If it is passed the city will begin taking these new applications through the month of October. For more information on this tax relief program for storm victims in the city of Richmond or to find out where to submit your applications -- call the city Assessor's Office at 646-7500.

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