July 2, 2016

Partly cloudy

County farmers hit with higher tax bills

SHARON TWP. — Brian Guccion wasn’t surprised to see the tax bill for his farm this year. He had heard rumors that farm values were jumping up.

“All the residential taxes went down 10 percent and ours went up,” he said.

According to the Medina County Auditor’s website, Guccion owed $4,728.64 in taxes this year on his 250 acres of farmland, compared with $2,605.42 he paid last year.

That jump was the result of higher values assigned to his farmland by the Ohio Department of Taxation.

The department administers the state’s Current Agricultural Use Values program, which allows farmland to be taxed based on agricultural value rather than fair-market value, which is considerably higher.

While those values took a big jump this year, the tax break provided by the CAUV program still is substantial.

If Guccion were not enrolled in the CAUV program, his bill this year would have been $9,457.28, according to Medina County Deputy Auditor Joan Heller.

Heller stressed that the county auditor has no role in setting the CAUV values. Because of that, farmers can’t file an appeal at the local level.

The taxation department calculates values by a formula based on five factors: yield information, cropping patterns, crop prices, non-land production costs and the capitalization rate.

The rates are updated every three years. The latest update was in 2013 and applies to taxes payable this year.

Heller said the average land value under CAUV in the county for 2012 was $490 an acre for crop lands and $158 per acre for woodland.

The new values average $1,252 per acre for crop lands, and $695 for woodlands, Heller said.

Guccion speculated that last year’s record corn prices was the reason for the increase in agricultural land values.

“Early last year, corn was at historic highs,” said Guccion, who owns land in both Sharon Township, where he lives and serves on the board of trustees, and Westfield Township.

But now, corn prices are way down.

“It’s cut in half from a year ago,” he said.

Guccion said the drop in crop prices means the tax hike hurts.

He said the average price for corn dropped from $8 a bushel last year to $3.63 a bushel as of last week.

Last year’s prices meant Guccion was earning about $1,200 per acre. This year the yield is only $550 an acre.

But even with the increased rates, farmers are paying taxes on values significantly lower than non-CAUV properties.

In 2012, the statewide average value for CAUV acreage was $994, compared to $3,044 per acre for land not enrolled in the program.

Guccion acknowledged he’s still getting a deal.

“Oh, we definitely get a discount,” he said. “The taxes are just one small portion of the input costs, but if we had to pay residential rates, you couldn’t do it.”

For more information about CAUV values, visit the auditor’s website at www.medinacountyauditor.org, call the auditor’s office at (330) 725-9765 or visit the office at 144 N. Broadway St., Medina., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.