Farmers argue old tax formula could put them out of business

TROTWOOD, Ohio (WDTN) — A tax formula meant to ease the financial burdens of farmers has started to multiply their property taxes.

The tax formula, known as the Current Agricultural Use Value has been around for more than 40 years. It is just as long as Brian Garber has been farming his land in Trotwood.

“I started when I was 19,” said Garber, who owns Garber Farms. “It’s my chief occupation.”

While harvesting soybeans, Garber reminisces about his younger days starting out on his farm. Among his thoughts, there is concern about being able to pay for his farm.

Because of CAUV, Garber says he has at least one parcel of land he will owe the state $124 per acre. However, he only expects to make about $100 per acre from the crops putting him in a bind.

“Everybody that owns land is pretty upset about it,” said Garber. “It’s kind of a sour subject.”

It did not always leave a bad taste in farmer’s mouths. The CAUV, created in the 1970’s, has helped farmers through difficult years. An increase in crop prices and low interest rates have thrown off the formula.

It is an issue city leaders in Trotwood are hoping to change.

“We are paying, as farmers, close to seventy percent of our income on property tax,” said Bruce Kettelle, a member of Trotwood’s City Council. “If the state came out with a seventy percent income tax, there would be a revolt in the state.”

Kettelle, who owns a farm in Trotwood, said his taxes have jumped in the last four years from $5,000 to $21,500.

On Monday, Trotwood City Council passed a resolution requesting the state Department of Taxation along with Governor John Kasich to reevaluate the tax formula.

If not, Kettelle believes farmers in Trotwood could be crippled under high taxes.

“It’s going to put people out of business,” said Kettelle. “When you start borrowing to pay taxes, it’s a one-way road. How are you ever going to make that up unless this formula changes?”

For Garber, he is hoping something might change or else he may end up calling it quits.

“If we have one more tax increase like they put on us, I’m going to quit farming,” said Garber. “I’m just going to quit.”

Other communities are working on resolutions asking the state to change the tax formula. Leaders in Clay Township, Perry Township, and Clayton have resolutions planned.

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