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Tax, flu relief focus of meeting

By: Cheri March, Colfax Record Correspondent
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Local homeowners are seeing the upside to falling home values. Approximately 30 percent of property owners in Colfax, Weimar and Applegate will receive a reduction in property taxes this month, Placer County’s assessor announced at the Sept. 16 meeting of the Weimar-Applegate-Colfax Municipal Advisory Council.
Members also received a schedule for local seasonal flu vaccinations, as well as an update on the H1NI flu strain in Placer County.

Property owners see tax relief
Placer County Assessor Kristen Spears reviewed more than 10,500 properties in the Weimar-Applegate-Colfax area for the county’s 2009-10 assessment roll. Most of the properties receiving a temporary decline in valuation were purchased between 2003 and 2008, she said.
For the first time in history, the county’s assessment role was negative, at minus 2.6 percent. Assessment roll values have been on decline since a high of 16.5 percent in 2006.
Numbers in the Colfax area are lower than the rest of the county. Of the 174,000 properties on the roll – 140,000 of those residential – about 40 percent will receive lower taxes.
While that’s good news for property owners, it’s an inconvenience for cities and school districts, which rely on property taxes for funding.
But it could be worse, Spears said. Stanislaus and Merced county assessment rolls declined by 8 and 13 percent respectively.
“It’s the first time in history (we’ve been negative), but we are fortunate because the numbers could have been much more significant,” Spears said. “We have some good things going for us in Placer County. In the Tahoe area, values have held steady. We’ve had had some very significant construction with the Galleria (at Roseville) expansion and the opening of Fountains.”
In May 2009 – the most recent data available – the median price for a single-family home in Placer County was around $275,000, approximately the same as May 2002.
Homeowners that disagree with their valuations can file a value review, available through the assessor’s office, until Dec. 31. Forms are available at placer.ca.gov/assessor or by calling 889-4300.
“You may be able to share something about the property that is different and unique and I’d certainly invite you to do that,” Spears said.

Seasonal flu shots
MAC members also received news on another concern – flu season.
Like most of the country, Placer County is on track to receive H1N1 vaccines in mid-October, said Dr. Richard Burton, county health officer and director of health and human services. Initially there won’t be enough to vaccinate everyone. The first supply will focus on those most at risk, such as children and adults under 24, those with chronic diseases and pregnant women.
“We’re working with every school district (in the county) to make sure vaccines will be available either in a school setting or close to a school,” Burton said.
It’s estimated that up to 100,000 Placer County residents could become infected with swine flu, but the majority will not require hospitalization, Burton said.
“For most people, (it’s enough to) stay home, drink plenty of fluids, take over-the-counter medicine and have someone to call if you keep getting sick,” he said.
While public health officials first feared H1N1 could be as deadly as the 1918 Spanish Flu, it has since proven to be a more mild strain.
Preventative measures include washing hands with soap and water, covering coughs and staying home while sick and until 24 hours after a fever goes away – after which contiguousness drops off dramatically.
Burton said H1N1 tends to transmit most easily in environments where people are in close proximity, such as carpooling or taking public transportation.
“It spreads overwhelmingly through droplets from sneezes or cough, (so) you’re not likely to get it from touching a desk,” Burton said.
Awareness about H1N1 could lead to a less deadly seasonal flu season as people adopt healthier habits to avoid infection, Burton explained. Though the seasonal flu is often dismissed as mild, it kills more than 30,000 people nationwide each year.
Seasonal flu shots will be available in Colfax from 9 to 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 13 at the Sierra Vista Community Center, 55 School Street.
Shots cost $20, but may be reduced based on income. For more information, call the Flu Information Line at 889-7161.
If H1N1 vaccine is released in October, it will be added to the vaccination schedule.
WAC MAC meetings are held at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month in the Colfax Veterans’ Memorial Hall, 22 Sunset Circle.
Future topics include the state of the Colfax Farmers’ Market and the role of local MACs, including Meadow Vista, Foresthill and Weimar-Applegate-Colfax.