Agriculture Property Taxes Come Under Scrutiny


Property tax bills are planned to go up for area farmers, but efforts are in the works to temporarily halt the increase once again.

According to Starke County Assessor Rhonda Milner, the Department of Local Government Finance uses a formula each year to determine the agricultural base rate. This is combined with other factors, including the soil productivity factor to determine the taxable value.

Significant increases in tax bills have been seen over the last few years. Milner says there is a balancing act.

“You have one side of the coin where the regular taxpayer doesn’t understand why the farmer gets a lower base rate, and then you have the farmer who’s trying to make a living, and if they pay more for taxes, we’re going to pay more for food,” says Milner.

The Starke County Assessor’s Office has very little leeway in their determinations. Milner says the Assessor’s office determinations can only be applied according to state guidelines, but says they try to treat each property equitably.

A bill filed in Indianapolis, however, would look to apply 2011’s soil productivity factor to March’s assessment. Senate Bill 205 would effectively halt another anticipated increase for another year.

Milner says such a change can happen.

“We have seen things change even after the assessment date where we have to go back and do retroactive, so nothing would surprise me,” says Milner.

The Indiana Farm Bureau has previously supported measures to delay changes to the soil productivity factors.