Ag land values: Assessed agricultural land values expected to rise for several yearsAgricultural land values for property tax assessment purposes are set to increase statewide by an estimated 150 percent by 2015, the Stutsman County Commission learned Tuesday.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Agricultural land values for property tax assessment purposes are set to increase statewide by an estimated 150 percent by 2015, the Stutsman County Commission learned Tuesday.
In 2012 agricultural land was valued at $472.75 per acre. The value in 2013 went up 16.5 percent across the state. In Stutsman County the new value is $551.01 per acre.
“Unfortunately this is probably going to be a normal scenario for the next three or four years because I don’t believe there is anything in the Legislature to address ag land value,” said Dustin Bakken, Stutsman County interim tax director, at the commission’s meeting Tuesday.
A formula by the North Dakota Office of the Tax Commissioner determines an average per each acre in each county. Local assessors set the values and adjust them to be in tune according to the state formula.
The formula utilizes commodity prices, interest rates and production over 10 years with the high and low years dropped and the remaining eight years averaged.
Agriculture land value increases in Stutsman County in 2012 meant a reduction of four mills for residential and commercial land, Bakken said.
The new values will have the same effect this calendar year.
“Most residential property saw decreases while farmland saw increases,” said Casey Bradley, Stutsman County auditor and chief operating officer, of taxes collected.
The commission also received the 2012 year-end report and learned of a multi-million dollar increase in all combined funds for 2012.
“In total we had beginning fund balance $17.4 million and we have an ending balance for $24 million,” Bradley said. “We had a $6,644,968 increase from last year.”
The county has 37 funds included in its budget.
“The bulk of that was federal highway money we were owed — basically a lot of reimbursements,” Bradley.
During the process the commission also learned that the Stutsman County Correctional Center is on its way to being in the black after implemented proposed changes in 2012.
“We had a substantial turnaround in the correctional center,” Bradley said. “Right now we’re predicting three to four years before we are completely in the black.”
The commission also learned that Bakken made an error in his calculation of property taxes on double wide mobile homes.
Bakken included four separate sales figures each for double wide and single wide mobile homes for calculating his values. One sales figure substantially increased the taxable value of all four double wides listed.
The new increase will be about 50 percent or an average of $98, instead of the 233 percent the original calculations caused.
“When you came into my office you had obvious reasons for concern and I didn’t catch this, it was an error on my part,” Bakken told resident Ronald Cumber of rural Pingree, N.D.
A new tax statement will be sent to those eligible by the end of the week, or else refunds will be mailed out for those who already paid.
The commission also held off a vote to sign a joint powers agreement agreeing for a year-long membership in the South Central Dakota Regional Council.
At its last meeting, the SCDRC set a mandate for all participating counties to sign the agreement by Feb. 10 and commit a year’s worth of membership dues by Feb. 15.
Stutsman County holds the membership for the county and the city of Jamestown. It is the largest contributor of funds in the nine-county region it serves.
“I think we need to really consider this very much and keep this organization going,” said Commissioner Dale Marks. “There might be some things within that need to be fixed.”
The County Commission meets again on Feb. 5 and will have to decide then if it will stay a member of the SCDRC.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org