Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher, who represents areas affected by the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County, introduced a pair of bills last week to aid in disaster recovery.
Assembly Bill 41 seeks to increase the state's share to cover the local costs of removing debris from the thousands of residences and hundreds of businesses destroyed. Assembly Bill 42 would provide funding to replace sources of local tax revenue lost in the blaze.
"AB 41, first of all, seeks to cover the costs — the local share cost of debris removal. And it's designed to help locals because there's going to be a huge effort needed to clear out all the different household waste — obviously, the ash and the burned-out materials from these communities," Gallagher said. "And it's just it's going to be very costly to deal not only with the removal but then also ensuring that those things are treated properly and disposed of properly. And so we want to ensure that we help the locals with that cost and that ultimately we're able to do that as quickly as possible as well, so that people can begin the process of rebuilding infrastructure, rebuilding homes and businesses."
Property taxes were due Monday, but now property values need to be re-evaluated for the thousands who lost their homes. Gallagher said AB 42 is designed to help Butte County deal with the thinner tax base.
"AB 42 is really geared at tax stabilization," he said. "So if you could imagine for a moment that the city or town that you live in is completely gone and completely wiped out. It's going to be many years before people rebuild, let alone start going to the grocery stores and going out to restaurants. All those things are gone. So imagine the entire community and those facilities and the places that you normally go being completely gone. Well, because nobody is doing that, there's no tax base, for instance, for the town of Paradise."