Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

September 22, 2013

Public Eye

Farmers and taxes

With farm land exploding in price, it’s not surprising that farm property taxes have been rising, but Howard County Assessor Jamie Shepard warns next year, the annual jump could be a big one.

Unlike most property, farms are assessed based on income, rather than real estate values, and the assessment uses a six-year rolling average, with the highest year thrown out.

Things have been so good, for so long, however, that next year, the lowest years from the recession will have dropped off. In addition, the state’s long-mandated and long-delayed move to include soil productivity factors in the equation is set to go into effect for the 2014 assessments.

All of that means the base rate for agricultural land, which was $1,760 an acre this year, could jump to $2,030 next year, Shepard said. The farm lobby, of course, will be all over the Indiana General Assembly to try and prevent this from happening.

Their success or failure will go a long way toward establishing exactly how far Indiana is prepared to go in the movement toward a market-based determination of how property taxes are calculated.

Blunted opposition

For several months it appeared that a seat at a meeting of the Howard County Commissioners was the hottest ticket in town.

Opponents of wind farms in Howard and neighboring Tipton counties filled the third flood hearing room of the Howard County Administration Building every two weeks.

During countless hours the opponents made their case to the commissioners to first void agreements for the next two phases of the Wildcat Wind Farm, and/or change the zoning ordinance so that the siting of wind turbines would be more restrictive in terms of property line setbacks, noise and shadow flicker.

Two weeks after the commissioners approved an amended agreement with E.ON Climate & Renewables for the wind farm development, only two opponents were in attendance at the meeting.

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