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New law helps businesses affected by disasters

GIFFORD -- Rebuilding businesses hit by the November tornado just got a little easier.
GIFFORD -- Rebuilding businesses hit by the November tornado just got a little easier. It's thanks to a new law. It says small business owners can catch a break on property taxes if they rebuild after a disaster.

It is protection similar to what homeowners already have. A few years ago, when a tornado hit Harrisburg, a law was signed. It makes sure homeowners rebuilding after a disaster aren't hit with higher property taxes right away. After disaster hit Gifford, a small business owner realized he needed that protection for himself.

Eric Rademacher is the president of Rademacher Building Center. He says he knew the weather was bad on November 17, 2013, but didn't realize how bad.

"We came to town and found out what shape we were in," said Rademacher.

Their main building lost most of its roof and two others were completely destroyed.

"Just a lot of decisions to make, you know. Just trying to help people, trying to get your own things figured out, how you want it to be when it's done," said Rademacher.

Decisions on what to do with his almost 50 year old buildings. Repair, rebuild, do nothing? Decisions which made Rademacher realize small business owners needed help too.

"And figured out there was nothing for a business," said Rademacher.

So he contacted his local representative.

"Justin and Eric Rademacher called and were describing a dynamic that I think a lot of people hadn't contemplated. One of the things that became very apparent is the cost of construction in 2014 is far different that the assessed valuation of their property that was many, many decades old," said Representative Chad Hays (R)  from the 104th District.

Like that, a bi-partisan bill was drafted and then signed. It's for small businesses in the state affected by disasters and prevents an immediate tax hike on repaired or rebuilt property. Instead, it'll be phased in slowly over 15 years.

"It gives them stability as a business owner. It lets them know where they are. It's also a positive for the community," said Rep. Hays.

"It's just another point to consider when we are rebuilding. If we do build new, we can take advantage of that," said Rademacher.

The law goes into effect Monday. It was signed in front of Rademacher Building Center since his family helped inspire the law.
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