For immediate release: March 6, 2015
Press release by:
Councilmember Riki Hokama, Chair
Budget and Finance Committee
Review of agricultural property tax assessments
WAILUKU, Hawaii – A bill that would address inconsistencies in agricultural real property tax assessments will be considered by the Budget and Finance Committee on Monday, March 9 at 9 a.m. in the Council Chamber, Committee Chair Riki Hokama announced today.
Owners who use their property, or a portion of their property, for agricultural purposes receive significant tax benefits, which encourage agricultural uses.
The current rules are inconsistent in how agricultural property valuations are implemented. There are variances in the valuations of homesites on agricultural parcels, depending on the size of the parcel.
Hokama said the proposed bill introduces uniformity and parity for property owners who want to receive an agricultural valuation. A one-time application will be required to obtain a dedication period between five and 20 years. He said longer dedications will have greater discounts to encourage long-term agricultural use and to attempt to minimize “gentleman-farmers,” or those who use farming as a way to obtain tax breaks.
Homesites are also proposed to be valued uniformly, like every other parcel of land in the county.
“We must identify ways to improve our property tax system and bring fairness to all property owners,” Hokama said. “There is no perfect legislation, but we are addressing what is best for the entire county, not just one specific area.”
The committee will consider agricultural dedication petition requirements, qualifications and penalties. An Agricultural Dedication Advisory Committee consisting of community members actively engaged in agriculture will also be considered.
Hokama said the bill will not impact the county’s homeowner exemption program or how property structures are valued.
“Part of the committee’s objective is to consider unintended consequences of this proposed bill,” Hokama said. “I hope to promote fairness, support for our agricultural users and lessening of the hardships they experience.”
Testimony may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org, referencing BF-70.
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