This letter is about the reassessment of what I would call scrub land which doesn't grow good timber, you are not able to farm the land, nor does it have any oil production, nor much pasture land. It is just land that many of us have called home for a number of years.
I remember when in 1929 my father bought land in Honey Creek Township for $20 per acre. It was rolling hills, beautiful creeks, springs and black and white oak trees as well as some hickory. We had about 10 acres of the ground that could be farmed and the rest of the 100 acres was used to hunt rabbits and squirrels, and have Easter egg hunts back by the rocky spring. The land was good to raise children and still is. It was steep sand rock hills, where kids picked up rocks from the clear water of the creeks. It was a wonderful place to be able to play and hunt on those happy hunting grounds, when taxes were practically non-existent.
Today - 75 years later - my, how time has changed. The schools and other taxing bodies are like a wood stove trying to heat a home that has no insulation. That wood stove just keeps gobbling up so much wood you can't cut enough to supply the demand. So, how are we going to meet the demand; we are going to reassess land that really is not much good for but a playground.
That same land that sold for $20 per acre in 1929, in 2005 brings from $1,200 to $3,000 per acre. Betty Bailey, the Crawford County supervisor of assessments, states that the playground land will be assessed at fair market value. What is fair market value, is it $3,000 or $2,000 or $1,000 or $500? You say it is what the people will pay for the land. What is it worth to live on? I would say that if you ask people that live in Honey Creek Township that they would say the land is very precious to them. You cannot put a price on the land.
What I would like for you to think about is what is the fair market value of farm land. Not farmers' land, but people that own land, like big corporations or people that have made millions, but just want to put it somewhere where their money draws some interest and they invest it in farmland. What is the fair market value of farm land? If this reassessment goes through, it could be possible that on farm land you get a tax break and they will not have to pay as much taxes on farm land from which they get income than on land they own which has no farm income. Is it not discrimination when you assess one man so much for his property and the property close by it is assessed at a lower value because it is farm land? Is this legal?
Another thought - on property that my daughter owns there are three oil company pipelines, and one water line right of way on which you can build no buildings. Buildings, including houses, have to be built back as much as 50 feet from these pipe lines. How much is the fair market value of that ground? Electric transmission lines go across many of the land owners' ground and you cannot build only so close to these electric lines. Why are not the ones that own these right of ways taxed for the usage or this property? I realize these companies do not own the ground, but actually all the land owner can do is walk across the ground or if it is farm ground, they can raise a crop. In townships the land owner owns to the middle of the road. Do we have to pay taxes on this part of the land?
I am a township trustee and realize how bad that taxing bodies need money to maintain roads, cemeteries, animal pounds, health facilities and schools. Let's remember that just this last year all of us that owned land that were senior citizens received a reduction in assessed valuation of $2,500. Why did the government do this and now are going to turn around and reassess the ground our home is built on at a higher value? If we are supposed to be assessed at fair market value, why wasn't it done when this ground was worth $500 an acre, then reassess it as its value gradually increased to $1,000 an acre and so on, instead of waiting to hit our pocket books so hard when the ground reached over $1,200 per acre?