property tax assessment

Half a dozen homeowners in rural Bartholomew County will get to pay less in property taxes because they live near concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

The decision comes about a year after the families in the town of Hope appealed to the county about the impact of large hog farms on their home values.

After the county denied their requests in March, the neighbors appealed the case to the State Board of Tax Review.

 

Rural homeowners in Bartholomew County say a big, nearby hog farm – a concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO – is hurting their property values.

The county denied their bid to lower the CAFO neighbors’ property taxes, and argued the issue is too complex to codify, while residents say officials are just worried about politics and money.

A battle over the impact of a big hog farm on rural home values in Bartholomew County will go before the Indiana Board of Tax Review – but it will not lead to the broader regulatory changes some residents had hoped for.

On Tuesday, county officials denied individual property tax appeals from a group of neighbors who live near a concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, in the town of Hope.

 

A new study from Purdue University on the effects of the state’s new method for taxing farmland shows what rural areas will take the biggest hit from the change.

Indiana taxes farmland mainly on the value of crops the soil can produce. But that calculation has lagged behind the current crop market.

It based farmland property assessments on 4-year-old crop prices, meaning taxes climbed even as farm revenues began to decline.

Annie Ropeik / Indiana Public Broadcasting

 

Bartholomew County may try the unusual tactic of a residential property tax deduction to ease tensions between large livestock farms and nearby residents.

 

At a property tax appeals board hearing Tuesday, county assessor Lew Wilson says not many Indiana counties have tried using the tax code to tackle the effects of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

 

"I think it’s a little bit of new territory that we’ve got to deal with," he says.

 

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA

Second-generation West Lafayette farmer Kevin Underwood has three tractors he uses to farm 1,600 acres of land – one is several decades old, another he bought just a few years ago. But while his 30 year old tractor still works well, Underwood says the system taxing what that tractor produces does not.

“The bind we’re in at this point is we’ve got income level going down and taxes and input costs continuing to go up,” Underwood says.

A legislative study committee will examine the state’s property tax assessment system to determine if the state’s property tax caps are being manipulated.

State Senator Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis) called for the investigation after constituents raised concerns about sharp increases in their property tax assessments in an area of Marion County.  The state Department of Local Government Finance will look into the Marion County issue and the Commission on State Tax and Financing Policy – a study committee – will consider the process statewide.