Published On: Thu, Sep 12th, 2013

County constituents question tax increases

The Pierce County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday, Sep. 3, and worked through a lengthy agenda, including the annual budget hearing. The hearing for the 2013-14 budget was anything but ordinary as 25 interested patrons crowded into the board room.

Board Chairman Jim Maas opened the hearing and asked for comments from those in attendance. While the visitors were orderly and polite, the board got an earful.

One farmer said one of his properties went from $40 per acre to $50 an acre for tax purposes. He asked why the board believes it needs a 25% increase in taxes.

Chairman Maas told the group that the board paid the inheritance tax fund back the money they “borrowed” from that fund to pay for part of the newly-concreted Pierce-Neligh Road. He stated that the board also opted to borrow money via bonds to finish paying for the road. Maas said they borrowed two million dollars and set up a five-year payment plan.

Maas said they planned to have the road paid off in five years as opposed to 10 years because someday land will begin to drop in valuation and the board wants the road loan finished before that happens.

Another farmer said that even though land valuation went up on an average of 21%, in reality irrigated land went up 30% and dry land 35%. He said he didn’t mind paying his fair share, but those kinds of increases are not justified.

CPA Mike Pommer told the group the board left the levy the same. He added that there is not much “cushion” in the budget.

Some members of the group said they should not have paid the inheritance tax back because it will refuel itself with an aging population. Pommer said the board is being aggressive because they might have another big project they have to do.

One farmer stated that road maintenance is “very poor” and they “don’t get their money’s worth.” Most of the group agreed by adding statements such as the edge of the roads are washed out, minimum maintenance roads have big gullies in them and are grown up to grass, and most said they never see a road grader on their roads. One person added that road workers are back in town by 4 p.m.

County Assessor Peggy Wragge was asked to come to the meeting and explain how valuations are determined. Wragge said valuations are driven by sales. She also explained that the range for valuing farmland is 69.75% of 100%. She said she currently has farmland at 73% of 100%.

Pick up this week’s issue of the Osmond Republican to read more!