Meade County landowners file suit over property assessments | TSLN.com

Meade County landowners file suit over property assessments

At least 10 Meade County (S.D.) landowners filed a joint appeal in late June of this year in circuit court, in protest of their 2013 property tax assessments.

According to the appeal document, which was made to Meade County officials: Robert Heidgerken, county commission chairman; Kirk Chaffee, director of equalization; Kevin J. Krull, state's attorney; and Lisa Schieffer, auditor, the county has not proven that the assessments are reasonable.

The appellants involved in the joint suit claim that the current valuation is "(i) unjust, (ii) excessive, (iii) arbitrary, (iv) inequitable, (v) discriminatory, (vi) results in lack of uniformity between such property and other property of the same class, or (vii) results in unfair shifting of the burden of taxation from nonagricultural property to agricultural property."

They believe that state law requiring ag land to be taxed based on productivity potential, is not being properly implemented. They explain and cite state law,

"For example, Respondents failed to comply with SDCL (South Dakota Codified Laws) Ch. 10-6, including SDCL 10-6-33.28 to 10-6-33.35, which statutes provide in part, "Agricultural land to be assessed based on agricultural income value. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 10-6-33, beginning on July 1, 2009, agricultural land shall be assessed based on its agricultural income value on a per acre basis. The agricultural income value of agricultural land shall be determined on the basis of productivity and the annual earnings capacity of the agricultural land. The productivity of agricultural land and its annual earning capacity shall be based on data collected and analyzed pursuant to this section and §§ 10-6-33.29 to 10-6-33. 33, inclusive."

The appeal document also refers to SDCL 6-33.28, "The capacity of non-cropland to produce agricultural products shall be based on cash rents or the animal unit carrying capacity of the land, or a combination of both."

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Additionally, the landowner(s) discussed the property's income-earning potential in the appeal document,

"The Taxpayer presented evidence on the factors that relate to valuation of the property for the year in question. The evidence showed a severe drought, the rainfall was severely restricted below normal, production of grain, hay, and grass was severely limited or no production at all. In view of these actual facts, the Taxpayer reasonably requested that the valuation remain the same as the prior year. But the Respondents ignored the uncontroverted evidence, and increased the valuation."

Editor's note: A court date has not yet been set but Tri-State Livestock News will continue to follow and report on this situation. Earlier stories shared the details of many of the Meade County landowners' concerns regarding their property tax assessments. If you didn't have the chance to read those stories, contact us for a copy of those papers or look them up at http://www.tsln.com.