Fire Victims' Tax Payments Deferred

The Ventura County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to allow victims of the recent brush fires to defer their property tax payments until damaged property could be reassessed.

The purpose of the measure is to prevent fire victims from having to pay taxes on property that has been damaged or destroyed, said County Administrative Officer Richard Wittenberg.

A change in the state tax code after the Oakland fires allowed counties to defer the payments and says the state will reimburse the county for all the payments that are deferred.

"In the past, we had no provision for that," Wittenberg said. "The person had to make the payment and then come in later and say, 'Hey, my house was burned down.' "

County fire officials said that 75 structures were burned or destroyed as a result of the Steckel, Green Meadow, Wheel and Simi Valley fires, which began in late October.

In addition to the passage of that measure, the Board of Supervisors voted to end the local state of emergency that was declared in early November because of the fires.

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