Tricounty News

Agricultural Property Tax Law changes

Nearly 3,800 Stearns County property owners will be receiving information in the mail this week regarding changes to the Green Acres program. The 2008 State Tax Bill, signed into law on May 29, made several changes to the Minnesota Agricultural Property Tax Law, commonly known as Green Acres. These revisions altered the program's eligibility requirements, payback provisions, and valuation guidelines. The law changes also provided grandfathering conditions for real estate receiving the valuation and tax deferment for the 2008 assessment, but not qualifying for the program benefits in the 2009 assessment year. In an effort to explain these changes and address the new procedures that must be administered, the Stearns County Assessor's Office will be mailing letters Friday, Sept. 26, to all property owners currently enrolled in Green Acres. This letter will include program information and three forms that need to be completed. Property owners are encouraged to carefully read this material because important decisions regarding the enrollment of their land in this program must be made by Nov. 15, 2008. If the property owner does not notify the county assessor by this date, a follow-up letter will be sent indicating that there will not be any changes to their Green Acres enrollment unless they respond. The Stearns County Assessor's Office will be holding seven informational meetings throughout the county during the week of Oct. 5 to discuss changes in the Green Acres program. Staff members will offer a short presentation and be available to address questions and concerns. The dates, times and locations of these meetings are: Monday, Oct. 6, Paynesville Senior Center, 5 p.m.; Tuesday, Oct. 7, Rockville City Hall, 2 p.m.; Tuesday, Oct. 7, Stearns County Administration Center, Room 499, St. Cloud, 5 p.m.; Wednesday, Oct. 8, Kimball City Hall, 2 p.m.; Wednesday, Oct. Oct. 8, Albany City Administration Building, 5 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 9, Melrose City Center, 2 p.m.; and Thursday, Oct. 9, Belgrade City Hall/Senior Center, 5 p.m.  Aerial maps, online fillable forms and detailed instructions will be available on the Stearns County web site to assist property owners in completing their various Green Acres forms. The aerial maps will feature navigation and measuring tools that will allow property owners to identify properties by parcel identification number and, if necessary, to pinpoint and measure different land areas for reporting purposes. Detailed instructions along with examples of completed forms will be posted to help property owners accurately fill out the required forms. To utilize these resources, go to www.co.stearns.mn.us/1019. Questions can be directed to the Stearns County Assessor's Office at (320) 656-3680.