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Farm Tax Relief Bill Causes Local Governments To Reconsider Funding Sources

Ron Nichols/NRCS

Farmers may shake off a tax burden under a bill signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence – but the legislation may place another burden on local governments.

The bill changes the state’s property tax formula for farmland. Its author, Sen. Brandt Hershman (R-Buck Creek), says it’ll decrease farmers’ tax bills by almost $50 million in 2018.

Benton County Council president Alan Adwell – who’s also a farmer -- says that money has to be made up somewhere, as boards like his mind the property tax caps already in place.

“So what happens at that point is that the burden would shift from the farmer to the residential, rentals and commercial property and basically, they would make up the difference that the farmers are being relieved of,” he says.

Adwell says 2018 and 2019 won’t be financially terrible for his county – he says according to state numbers, the lost revenue will amount to around $50,000.

He says though his county will lose money, he believes the compromise seems fair.

“They were going to have to do something about the farm property taxes because they get to the point that it’s prohibitive,” Adwell says. “The farm economy is tight at this point and I realize there’s good years and there’s bad years.”

Adwell contends non-farming residents use more county resources – such as city water and infrastructure -- than farmers do.

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