Tax Implications for Local Government –
Tax implications resulting from in-perpetuity Conservation Easements are a reduced tax base, which penalizes all taxpayers of non-encumbered properties with a disproportionate tax burden.
Under KSA 79-1476, Kansas is statutorily required to lower tax valuations on properties encumbered by Conservation Easements under US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Conservation Easement Program (ACEP – repealed & replaced Wetlands Reserve Program – WRP; Farm and Ranchland Protection Program – FRPP; and Grassland Reserve Program – GRP) with those tax reductions charged to non-participating taxpayers county-wide.
Land data gathered for western Kansas shows a valuation range of $10/acre to $550/acre depending on the land’s classification – Native Grassland, Dryland or Irrigated land. Under statutory requirements, after a property is encumbered by a WRP – CE, the land is classified as ‘Native Grassland’ and subject in perpetuity – forever – only to the lowest tax valuation. For non-CE encumbered landowners and county tax bases, this equates to ≤ 98% reduction of tax valuations on CE encumbered properties and necessitates a raise of county mil levies. The mil levy increases result in disproportionately higher taxes charged to non-encumbered properties in order to meet continued obligations to provide public services such as schools, hospitals, law enforcement, public works, etc.
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