Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
In recent weeks, the Green Acres property tax program and the changes made to it during the 2008 legislative session have received a great deal of attention. Several constituents and legislators have expressed concerns about the impact of the new provisions on landowners currently enrolled in Green Acres. I am writing to assure your readers that I take these concerns very seriously. The Green Acres program was originally created to help farmers whose property values were increasing because of nonagricultural factors (e.g. development pressures). Under Green Acres, a qualifying agricultural homestead receives reduced property taxes: property value is limited to the "agricultural value" of the land, and special assessments are deferred. For several years, property tax administrators, assessors, and farmers have expressed confusion and concern about some of the Green Acres provisions. Many suggested the program's eligibility criteria were unclear. Others pointed to discrepancies between how individual counties determined who could apply and how agricultural land was valued. In February 2008, the Legislative Auditor released a report on the Green Acres program con?rming several problems with program implementation. In response to the Legislative Auditor's report, a bi-partisan group of legislators from Greater Minnesota developed legislation to address the problems with the program. The changes were included in the Omnibus Tax Bill and signed into law by the Governor.
Since enactment of the changes to the program, serious concerns have been raised. I want to assure your readers that these concerns have been heard loud and clear at the Capitol. During the 2009 session, we will hold hearings and thoroughly evaluate the 2008 legislation and explore possible changes that need to be made.