Board of Equalization holds line

NEW ULM – The Brown County Board of Appeal and Equalization held the line on three tax appeals Monday night before recessing the meeting to deal with a fourth appeal at the June 24 county board meeting.

Hugh Nierengarten appealed the value of a 7.28-acre parcel that the Milford Township Board reduced in value from $12,000 to $4,900, based on a Brown County GIS aerial map that showed the parcel to be more river than wooded lots. The value represented 4.84 aces of river and 2.44 acres of woods at $2,000 an acre.

“If you went to look at this land tomorrow, it’ll be all under water,” Nierengarten said. “It’s an outrageous calculation. The property is worth no more than $500.”

Commissioner Richard Seeboth proposed reducing the land value to $1,000 or let it go for taxes. The motion died for lack of a second.

Commissioner Scott Windschitl said hunting land is valuable. He proposed setting the value at $2,500. That motion failed by a 4-2 vote.

The board approved keeping the land value at $4,900 on a 5-1 vote with Seeboth dissenting.

Gary Roiger of Stately Township said the Stately Township Board voted to reduce the value of all tillable township land by one percent, which is the most the local board can reduce value. However, the Minnesota Department of Revenue deemed the action invalid since the local board cannot reduce value by property class.

He presented copies of the Revenue Department letter and copies of pages from the local board of review training handbook that details the types of changes allowed by the local and county boards of review. Roiger said the county board of review is allowed to make such value adjustments by property class, but that the state board, whose final orders are issued June 30, 2014, can reverse such county board action.

A resolution to reduce all Brown County tillable acres by one percent failed on a 4-2 vote. Potter and Seeboth voted for the reduction.

Roiger appealed an 89.2- acre parcel, 82 tillable acres with an average CER of 60.65 and $6,975 value per tillable acre, 5.2 acres pasture, one acre waste and one acre of road. He bought the parcel in August 2011 for $320,400. The 2014 Estimated Market Value (EMV) was $578,700.

There are 76 acres of CRP filed with the sale. Roiger compared the parcel to another he owns in Bashaw Township. That parcel is 160 acres, 110 tillable, with a 73.76 CER valued at $8,482 per tillable acre, 13 acres with a 10 percent small field adjustment and a $7,634 value per tillable acre, 33 acres of waste, four acres of road. He bought the land in December 2012 for $1,016,000. The 2014 EMV is $1,048,800. There are 46.56 acres of CRP filed with the sale.

“I think the (land value) system is about 15 to 20 years overdue to change,” Roiger said. “Lenders want to know more about how much the land produces, not compare one piece of land to another.”

Windschitl said Minnesota has the nation’s most complex property tax system that nobody wants to change because “it’ll be a dirty job when somebody wins and loses.”

Another farmer said the property yield spread has widened lately while the system hasn’t changed. “The people we see at board of equalization meetings are marginal ground owners,” he added.

Potter agreed. “I think we need to re-evaluate this and start talking to people,” he said.

Commissioners unanimously approved making no changes to Roiger’s land value.

Jerome Graff of Stately Township appealed the value of a 72.75-acre parcel, 40.5 acres tillable with an 87.26 CER, $10,035 value per tillable acre, two acres with a 20 percent small field adjustment, and a value of $8,028 value per tillable acre, 22.7 acres of pasture, 5.3 waste, and 2.25 road. The 2014 EMV is $452,400.

The board recessed the meeting until the Tuesday, June 24 board meeting so more information could be obtained to deal with it then.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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