Steve Korris Sep. 26, 2013, 1:57pm

Cracks and tilts in a home above a former coal mine qualify homeowners not only for an insurance payout but also for property tax relief.

Appellate judge Judy Cates and husband Darrell will pay $7,079.14 in property tax on their Swansea home this year - less than what was assessed in at least the last two years - because insurer Fireman’s Fund detected damage from mine subsidence in 2007.

Fireman's Fund paid the policy limit of $350,000 in December 2007, so St. Clair County must assess the home as functionally obsolete.

Last year, the county valued the structure at $191,603, the land at $44,991, and miscellaneous at $41,945, for total value of $278,539. Miscellaneous apparently refers to a swimming pool.

The value fell from $290,478 the previous year, and $305,013 two years earlier.

Darrell Cates alleges in a new lawsuit that the value prior to the damage “was far in excess of the $350,000 loss.”

County records show he and Judy borrowed $350,000 from First County Bank in 1999, to buy a new home at 2857 Keswick Court in Swansea.

They extended the mortgage in 2009, financing a $239,136.80 balance at 5.45 percent interest, through 2016.

Their homeowner insurance costs more than their property tax, according to a policy declaration Darrell attached to his suit.

It shows a $7,496 total, including a $224 mine subsidence premium at issue in his suit.

According to county records, the property tax bill for the Cates’ Swansea home in 2011 was $7,275.80, and in 2010, it was $7,551.82.

Their home and subdivision was built upon the old Summit Mine, operated by the Herrin Co. from 1894 through 1940.

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