Residents involved in the Current Agricultural Use Value program in Brown County should expect a massive hike in their land values, leading to an increase in property taxes according to County Auditor Jill Hall.
“The portion they pay on their land, I expect to double, that is the average throughout the county,” Hall said. “Now that is just their land value – their buildings did not change at all.”
Hall held a town-hall style meeting on Thursday at Southern State Community College to try to explain where the hike came from and to help farmers with concerns for rising property values.
During the meeting, Hall said she expected everyone in the CAUV program land to double in value and because of that, ultimately double their property taxes.
“What I’ve been trying to tell people is they are enrolled in a program, that program is called CAUV, the program was put into place in 1973 and voted on by the public to give agricultural land a discount,” Hall said. “The program adjust itself every three years automatically. The state does that adjustment and sends it to use to put on the tax roll.”
Hall said the biggest misconception is that if someone’s taxes double, the county is going to have more money to spend.
“That not really the case,” Hall said. “We get an amount of money per of valuation. There are four sectors that pay taxes – commercial, industrial, residential and agricultural – so if the agricultural picks up more of the pie, the other three should have less of the piece of pie.”
The doubling in land value is not a result of a legislative move to increase taxes, but rather a formulaic increase based on a number of factors involved in agricultural production. The program was first put into place nearly 40 years ago as a way to keep agricultural land in tact and to keep farmers farming by not charging them residential rates on their agricultural property. The formula combines many factors including production cost, non-land use cost, the price of commodities, and cropping patters, soil type and divides them by the capitalization rate – which gives a value to the land per acre.
Citizens at the meeting on December 10 were concerned over how the land is evaluated and how the state comes up with the numbers for the formula. Residents were upset their pasture land is evaluated as if it were used for soybeans, corn, or wheat – which are the three components in the state’s calculation, but according to Hall, that’s is not a change.
“It’s always been that way,” Hall said. “If someone is unhappy with that formula, the only way those things are going to change has to be a legislative change. That means the legislature is going to have to open that up and make a decision to change how the formula is done – flat out, that is the only option.”
In the formula, the State of Ohio looks at a seven year average for these factors and eliminates the highest and lowest values in the factors, then averages the remaining five factors to come up with the formula for value per acre based on soil type. With over 3,500 soil types in the State of Ohio, nearly each one has a different cost per acre assessment.
Last yea, Hall became aware of what would likely be a major increase to the value of land in Brown County after seeing the increase, in last year’s tax bills she included a letter those in the CAUV program they would likely see a major increase, and said if during the 2018 reappraisal and readjustment, she would do the same thing.
“I feel its very important to keep people informed if there is going to be a major change for them,” Hall said. “I would want to know ahead of time if I’m going to owe a huge bill. I wanted to be able to give people a heads up, that’s why I started a year ago. I sent a letter out that said last paragraph that said ‘I expect your taxes to double next year’”
Last year neighboring counties say property taxes triple and quadruple. For Brown County, the adopted changes in the formula have helped curb the rise in land value. Within the legislation, the Department of Taxation has room to adjust with certain numbers of the formula.
“The Department of Taxation actually tweaked some things to help make our values not be as bad as some counties were last year,” Hall said. “For example, Clermont Soil (one of the soil types) this year our values are $2,150 for crop land and $770 for woodland. If we would have had what they did last year, we would have had $2,520 for crop land and $1,770 for woodland.”
Those values reflect the value per acre for one particular soil type and grade, but the other biggest change to the CAUV formula come in the form of a quasi cap to the value. Before this year, a CAUV value could be more than the fair market value, Hall said that was one of the biggest changes to the formula. Now, in an instance where the CAUV value exceeds the market value, the CAUV value is reduced to market value.
Hall said she is waiting on finalized millage rates from the State so she can begin to send out property tax bills. She said she hopes to have finalized numbers to the Treasurer’s Office as soon as she gets rates and hopes bills go out by the first week in January.
“Right now I am waiting for surrounding counties to submit their numbers to the state before we can get ours back,” Hall said. “School districts bump into parts of Brown County and we cannot get our rates back until those counties submit theirs as well.”