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Ag Assessments discussed at commisison meeting
courtesy Meade County
Ag Assessments discussed at commisison meeting

Commission votes against lowering land assessments due to drought


F.Ganje - April 25, 2018

STURGIS, SD – An attempt to reduce ag land assessments further due to drought, failed at today’s Meade County Commission meeting.

Arguments offered on both sides weren’t enough to sway a majority of the commission that voted 2-1 against, Doreen Creed and Bob Heidgerken against and Galen Niederwerder for, and with two abstaining from the vote-Ted Seaman and Linda Rausch.

At issue, says commission chairman Galen Niederwerder, is a ranching and farming industry that has been hard hit financially due to drought.  He shared information that includes the affects of that in the continued multi-million dollar loss of state of sales tax because producers aren’t purchasing much in the way of equipment, product or services.  He pointed to statistics that relate ag income is down by 76 percent over three years.

None of that was enough to convince commissioners such as vice-chairman Ted Seaman, that reducing assessments on ag land wouldn’t result in costly consequences that would outweight any benefit.  And that commercial and residential taxpayers could argue that they too have been financially impacted and need their taxes reduced as well.

Niederwerder had proposed decreasing ag land valuation by 26 percent.  Whether that’s even allowable under the state Department of Revenue and just how it would be accomplished weren't immediatly clear during the discussion.   

Representing the Meade County School District was district attorney Bruce Hubbard and  interim superintendent John Pederson,  who pointed out that what the commission was considering doing was unchartered waters and that there were real possibilities of adverse impacts on school and student funding.

Seaman said that other counties in western South Dakota are also experiencing drought conditions and that none have given a reduction in land assessment values. He said Meade County has already factored in a 10 percent reduction this year. 

But the elephant in the room appears to remain as to whether the South Dakota Department of Revenue will even allow drought as a legitimate assessment value adjustment.



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