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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Landowner says he lowered farmland valuation based on tree canopy

Updated: Oct 31, 2022

MOUND CITY – On Tuesday, Oct. 11, the Linn County Commission learned from Parker resident Robert Tyson that the system for appraising agricultural land is very confusing and, according to Tyson, illogical – especially for eastern Kansas.

Tyson ran into this problem last year when some of his pastureland went up 29 percent in value and some went up 50 percent. He said he met with the Linn County Appraiser Kathy Bridges, and she explained that those areas had increased more because the trees or canopy cover was removed. That made the land go up in value.

Tyson said that he appealed the increase to the Board of Tax Appeals in Topeka. He said that he would not have done that just for himself but for other landowners.

He said his house valuation went up 90 percent for next year, but he was not appealing that. Tyson won the appeal but said it took him many hours to research where this system of taxing agricultural land came from.

The argument that he used in his appeal was from a 1998 letter that said there are several adverse influences to be looked at when evaluating agricultural land. These adjustments are an attempt to properly recognize unique factors in determining a parcel’s value that are not contemplated by the overall formula.

The letter he read said that there were four adverse influences that may be considered when determining the valuation and one of those influences was canopy cover.

Tyson read from the document explaining that if a pasture was 25 percent covered by trees, there was no reduction in valuation. But if it were 25 percent to 50 percent covered, the valuation was lowered by 20 percent.

Coverage of 50 percent to 75 percent reduced the valuation by 30 percent; and 75 percent to 100 percent covered by trees reduced the valuation by 50 percent.

Commissioner Rick James, who had been in contact with Tyson during this process expressed concern the process to research and appeal the valuation change and the time that the appraiser’s office had to work on this was ridiculous.

James said he thought that it would be better if land in Kansas were just appraised as residential, commercial and agricultural instead of several different types of agricultural.

James asked Tyson if it would be a good idea to get legislators to look at changing that. Tyson was unsure because land is categorized by soil type and use in Kansas.

Bridges said that landowners with questions about their agricultural land appraisal could call her office.

County Counselor Gary Thompson said that there is documentation for a landowner to fill out about removal or addition of trees on the property.

In another issue, Bridges told the commissioners that many letters were sent out recently to landowners asking about whether their land was in the conservation reserve program (CRP).

She explained that she cannot get this information from the Soil Conservation Office because it is not open record. The letters were sent because valuation of agricultural land is lowered if it is in CRP.

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