SPRINGFIELD — Victims of natural disasters could rebuild their houses without fear of a major spike in their property tax bills under legislation advancing in the Illinois House.

The measure, sponsored by state Rep. Brandon Phelps, D-Harrisburg, was crafted to assist the victims of the tornado that ripped through his hometown on Feb. 29.

Homeowners would be able to replace their destroyed houses with new dwellings of virtually the same size, but would still pay property tax bills based on the value of their old home.

“People just want to go back to their homes. They did not ask for their homes to be destroyed,” Phelps told members of the House Revenue and Finance Committee Wednesday.

Storm victim Miki Pavelonis said she and her husband, Bob, would like to rebuild, but are concerned a new structure would be taxed at a rate they couldn’t afford.

“We want to move back because we’ve lived their 40 years,” Pavelonis told the panel.

“We’re just asking for some dispensation from you.”

Harrisburg businessman Rod Wallace, who is helping with the rebuilding effort, told lawmakers the measure will not affect property tax revenues for counties or cities.

“We’re looking for a revenue neutral bill,” Wallace said.

The proposal, which was approved unanimously by the committee, could be voted on by the full House this week.

The legislation is House Bill 4242.

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