Agriculture land value to rise in Stutsman County

The Stutsman County Commission, serving as the county equalization board, approved a 9 percent increase in the value of agriculture land in the county for the 2010 tax year during its regular meeting Tuesday.

The Stutsman County Commission, serving as the county equalization board, approved a 9 percent increase in the value of agriculture land in the county for the 2010 tax year during its regular meeting Tuesday.

"To be in compliance you have to do something," said Noel Johnson, chief operating officer of Stutsman County. "If you make the adjustment you need to be within 5 percent of the $345.25 per acre value set by the state. If you make the North Dakota Equalization Board make the adjustment they will move you within 3 percent of the value."

Agriculture land is valued on a formula using crop prices, interest rates and farm expenses. The state then sets an average value per acre for each county. Local assessors determine the values of individual parcels which are then adjusted to reach the county-wide average.

The 2009 county average had been $304 per acre or 13.6 percent under the 2010 state mandated average. By raising the county agriculture assessments 9 percent across the board the value will fall within the 5 percent margin allowed by the state.

The raise in ag land values this year follows a 5 percent increase last year.


The commission also raised the values of residential properties in Durham, Edmunds, Kensal, Lyon, Manns, Nogosek and Pingree townships by 25 percent.

Values of residential properties are compared to actual sales in the area. The comparison found that all sales were for amounts above the values assessed for taxes.

"The assessors in these townships haven't been raising the residential values," Johnson said. "We need to try to bring things up to realistic levels."

The commission also approved lowering the values of lots of less than 1 1/2 acres at Spiritwood Lake. The city commission there had passed a zoning regulation prohibiting construction on parcels of less than that size. The values were lowered to the valuation in place before being raised last year.

The commission established wages for election workers as $10 per hour with a $15 meal allowance for workers at rural precincts. North Dakota law mandates election workers be paid 25 percent more than minimum wage which Johnson said was slightly more than $9 per hour.

The commission also denied a request from Allied Agronomy for a 10-year, 100 percent tax incentive. If granted the incentive would have reduced the estimated $35,000 per year in property taxes the project would owe to zero.

"We operate in Edgeley, Kulm and Jud and recently purchased an operation in Gackle," said Gene Erpelding, manager. "This warehouse will support those locations for repackaging farm chemicals. For example, we purchase 200,000 gallons of Roundup each year and will repackage it for our customers."

While Erpelding said the farm chemical portion of the operation would not compete with any local businesses its seed sales does.


"Just down the road is a guy that treats and handles seeds," said John Grabbinger, resident of the area addressing the commission. "Don't give one company a competitive edge over another."

Commissioner Dale Marks agreed.

"It sounds like a competing business for the seeds but maybe not for the farm chemicals," he said. "I vowed never to vote for tax breaks for competitive businesses."

Connie Ova, chief executive officer of the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., suggested denying the tax incentive would set a bad precedent.

"We don't like to spread the message we're discouraging business," she said.

A motion to deny the request passed unanimously and was followed by a request from Allied Agronomy to be allowed to reapply and be considered at the June 15 meeting.

In other business the commission nominated Dr. Edward Anderson to the Central Valley Health District board, Alice Pekarski to the School Reorganization board and Carolyn Cichos to the Housing Authority board. All are currently serving and have agreed to be renominated.

Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at

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