Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fire damage estimate revised downward

Posted By on Thu, Jun 20, 2013 at 9:50 AM

Black Forest Fire
  • Pool photo by Christian Murdock

The estimate for structure damage caused by the Black Forest Fire has been revised to $90 million from a higher figure provided earlier this week by El Paso County Assessor Mark Lowderman.

"The problem isn't necessarily with the data gathered by the deputies during the fire," Lowderman says. "The problem was on an IT level. When they tried to update the data, they had multiple people doing it, and when they merged the data, they duplicated some of the data."

But Lowderman called the $90 million figure "very, very preliminary," because his crew has physically inspected only 500 of 2,400 lots so far.

"To really get an accurate number, it's gonna take us a while," he says, noting 15 of his full-time employees are inspecting and reappraising the burn area. He says he expects the $90 million figure to grow.

Just like last year for owners of Mountain Shadows homes that burned in the Waldo Canyon Fire, tax bills on damaged or destroyed homes will be adjusted. "Everything will be on [tax rolls] at 100 percent from January 1 to June 10," Lowderman says. "Then from June 11 to Dec. 31, it will be a land value for six months of the year."

Although the removal of so many homes from the tax rolls might not pose a large hit on revenue for the county, Lowderman says it might be a different story for the Black Forest Fire Department, which relies heavily on residential property instead of commercial property.

The structure-damage total for losses in the Waldo Canyon Fire was $121.5 million, Lowderman says.

Meantime, late yesterday, El Paso County set up a Long Range Recovery Planning Committee to oversee recovery, restoration and rebuilding efforts within the Black Forest Burn area. The panel will be co-chaired by Commissioners Darryl Glenn and Amy Lathen.

“Information from this group will be disseminated via our normal communications channels and through the recently established HOA/neighborhood communication network,” Glenn said in a release.

These elected officials will be represented on the panel:

• US Senators Udall/Bennett's Office
• Congressman Doug Lamborn's Office
• State Senator Kent Lambert
• State House Representative Amy Stephens
• State House Representative Dan Norburg
• El Paso County Sheriff's Office

Here's a list of residents who have been named to the committee:
• Edward Bracken
• Donna Arkowski
• Carolyn Brown
• Judy von Ahlefeldt
• Leif Garrison
• Laura Carno
• Sean Perkins

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