Tornado damage
1:19 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Lawmakers Propose Tax Break For Businesses Blighted By Tornadoes

On the edge of destruction in Washington, Ill. The community was ravaged by tornadoes on Nov. 17.
On the edge of destruction in Washington, Ill. The community was ravaged by tornadoes on Nov. 17.
Credit Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Four months ago, tornadoes whipped through Central Illinois, ravaging communities like Washington and Gifford. As the towns rebuild, some lawmakers want to give businesses a break when fixing up their properties.

Rebuilding after a natural disaster can be expensive; insurance money only covers so much. A proposal making its way through the General Assembly could help ease that burden on businesses, by providing a property tax break.

Senator Dave Koehler (D-Peoria) says this would help stabilize local economies.

"They provide jobs, they provide tax base, they provide vital services," he said. "So, this is a bill to help be proactive in saying, we want you as a small business to continue to operate and serve the communities that you're in."

Though the storm damage in Koehler's Peoria district was mainly limited to residential areas, he says protecting business interests now can prevent blight later.

"Small business is the backbone of the economy," he said. "We're trying to be proactive and anticipate what the obstacles might be for a business to rebuild."

The proposal would provide a property tax break that gradually decreases over 15 years. Koehler says it will not limit the amount of money going to local taxing bodies, like schools.