Property Damages


It’s not as urgent as health issues and keeping gulf businesses operating in the short-term, but the potential demise of property values is one of the more long-term questions arising from the BP disaster. And now Florida Governor Charlie Crist, faced with a legislature that was not about to approve his more comprehensive “oil bill,” has found a tool to help.

Crist has directed local property assessors to re-value property. This is of course done every few years or so, but doing it now will offer at least some relief. The governor doesn’t have the power to lower the rate, but it’s a sure bet that people will pay less because their property is worth less.

Perhaps more interesting is the idea of formally documenting the damages. This was in the media reports from Chris Jones, the property appraiser in Florida’s Escambia County: “It appears what the governor has done is have the property appraisers provide some professional assistance to the folks that are impacted by giving them some kind of damage number that they could then take to BP and say they’ve lost money.”

The BP claims administrator has made news by casting doubt that property owners facing lower values will be eligible for claims, althought the details of that are not known and there’s also been comment that owners of beachfront property will have claims.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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