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Senators Lourey & Olseen Address Green Acres Concerns

Thursday, September 18th, 2008 at 8:53 am

Last year, the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Auditor provided
an in-depth look at agricultural land property valuation and the Green
Acres program. Their report found that there were several
inconsistencies and inappropriate uses occurring within the program,
which in turn prompted the Legislature and governor to review it and
make changes.
In hindsight, we can see that the adopted language relating to Green
Acres did not give prominent consideration to the legitimate uses of the
program. As a legislature, our intent should be to strike a balance
between curbing the inappropriate uses of the program and providing
incentives for the continued good uses. The spirit and goal of the
Green Acres program, to preserve Minnesota land for farm practices, is
still as valid today as when the program was incepted.
We want to make two points very clear to our constituents who have been
impacted by the changes to Green Acres. First, the request you have
received from your county assessor is simply asking what you intend to
do with your property. It needs to be stressed that any intention you
state in response to the county assessor’s request is nonbinding. It
is in no way a final statement of the options you have for the future
use of your land. To make an informed decision regarding your
intentions for your property, you should contact your county assessor to
learn the financial consequences of your options.
It should be noted that some counties have, unfortunately, listed a
Nov. 3, 2008 deadline for registering your intention. The Department of
Revenue has told counties this was incorrect and clearly maintains that
the deadline for registering your intent is Jan. 2, 2009. Further, no
final decision on the future of your land will have to be made until the
summer of 2009.
Second, we are not pleased with the unintended consequences of the
changes to agricultural land valuation and the Green Acres program. Our
next legislative session begins in January 2009, and we plan to make a
concerted effort early in the session to resolve these issues. Between
today and the start of session, we will be meeting with legislative
colleagues, the Department of Revenue, and county officials, as well as
constituents affected in order to put together the best proposed
resolution possible. We recognize that the problems you are facing are
egregious, and we will make every effort to correct them before any
decision made on your property is final.
In the meantime, we encourage folks to contact us with the specific
problems you are facing. We will collect letters and testimonials to
bring before the Tax Committee so that they will know how this law is
affecting everyday Minnesotans and be better informed on what changes
need to be made.
You may call Sen. Olseen at 651-296-5419, send an e-mail to
sen.rick.olseen@senate.mn, or write to G-24 State Capitol, St. Paul,
MN 55155. Sen. Lourey may be contacted at 651-296-0293,
sen.tony.lourey@senate.mn, or 205 State Capitol, St. Paul, MN 55155.

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