At the July 25th Board work session, when Supervisor Hogg produced his “courtesy” letter regarding tax increases to AFD lands, Chairman Murray made the comment that “we have some shocks coming”. That may be something to keep in mind. While the coming tax increase was discussed with the Board of Supervisors on May 17th, a good bit of the county was unaware that this was in the works; hence the courtesy letter that was sent out to landowners.
Transcript of the audio from the May 17th Board meeting (2 weeks before the public hearing on the budget was held) notes that County Administrator Katie Nunez explained to Supervisor Oliver Bennett that the change in SLEAC rates would have a “slightly greater” impact on taxes for landowners in an AFD. The increased taxes on lands in AFD were factored into the revenue of the new budget:
SUPERVISOR BENNETT: Katie, on that impact reassessment value on farming, what would be the effect on farming as far as these numbers going down?
KATIE NUNEZ: In terms of our tax bills?
BENNETT: Yes ma’am.
10:43 KATIE NUNEZ: Sure, again the correct numbers we confirmed with Ms Gray, to Charlene correctly, I think the last sheet, really all the farm property located throughout the Ag Forestall Districts, conservation preservation easements say a dramatic drop in their property assessments, so I think that means there will be an increase on what their tax bill is on an annual basis. They will pay a slightly greater share than they typically have been paying on their tax bill.
Below is table referencing the impact the reassessment will have on some AFDs:
While a 30% increase may be the number being batted around, in some cases the real increase may be more. Some estimates have been closer to a 65% increase. These increases may be the first shocks of many more to come as the County struggles find its fiscal footing. Even with tourism and aquaculture building momentum, it may be foolish to think these two industries will be enough ward off future tax increases, and the draconian policies that may follow. As Chairman Murray alluded, the BoS appears to be, like a pilot rapidly losing altitude, fully aware of the condition of the craft. Whether we crash land, or eject, that is the next budgetary question.