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Law addresses skyrocketing state tax on farmland property

By MARC KOVAC Capital Bureau Published: May 15, 2017 9:02 AM

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Senate passed legislation Wednesday aimed at addressing skyrocketing farmland property tax bills, about a week after the Ohio House added its own reform package to the biennial state budget bill.

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Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) said he expects the law changes to pass one way or the other.

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“I think we all recognize that doubling the cost of your taxes every three years … is not an acceptable outcome.

The result, backers say, is farmers continuing to farm their land rather than developing it for residential, commercial or other uses.

Bob Peterson (R-Sabina), who is a farmer.

“If you were paying $10,000 nine years ago, six years ago you paid $20,000… three years ago, you paid $40,000… These numbers get real big, real fast.

Cliff Hite (R-Findlay), primary sponsor of the Senate legislation, said the resulting tax bills have been unmanageable.

“…It’s about relief… and it’s important that we give people that are involved in our No.

1 industry in the state of Ohio that type of relief… Supporting this legislation ensures that the formula sticks to valuing farmland based on ag production.

Additionally, the bill would ensure farmland set aside for conservation measures is taxed at a lower rate than fields being used for row crops.

“I think the agricultural community, they believe that the CAUV land rates have been skewed higher because of the equity rate that was … used.

This fixes that. This makes it an accurate formula and a fair tax policy.

Kirk Schuring (R-Canton), who worked on the CAUV amendment included in the House-passed budget bill.

“They’ve seen exponential increases in property values, in some cases 300 percent or more, and then farm income has been down dramatically, the second lowest since the 1920s.

We have to modernize the formula, and the modernization that we put in the House version of the budget will say that the equity rate would be based on farm income… [statistics] disseminated by the U.

S. Department of Agriculture.”

Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) voiced concern about the impacts of the legislation on school budgets.

An analysis by the state’s Legislative Service Commission noted possible losses of up to $20 million annually after fiscal 2019 for districts and other local governments, due to lower tax values on CAUV-enrolled lands.

“But to put some of the burden on the school districts, I think it may be the straw that broke the camel’s back in some school districts….

As a standalone bill, it’s fine, but it fits much more naturally in the budget than a lot of other things do.

Contact him at mkovac@recordpub.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.

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