North Country state legislators Sen. Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush are hailing passage in both houses of a bill to hold farmland assessment increases to no more than two percent a year.
Ritchie (R-Heuvelton), Senate Agriculture Committee chair and sponsor in the Senate, said rising taxes are contributing to many farms going under.
"Land taxes are crushing farmers, threatening to drive many right out of business, and making it harder to keep generations-old farms in the family," said Ritchie, who represents northwestern St. Lawrence County, and Jefferson and Oswego counties.
Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R-Black River), who co-sponsored the bill in the Assembly, said tackling the growth of assessments was a top priority.
“Family farms are upstate New York’s biggest employers, and we must make every effort to make the state more agri-business friendly, which means we had to tackle the growing problem of property tax assessments,” said Blankenbush, whose district includes the St. Lawrence County towns of DeKalb, Gouverneur, Hermon, Russell, Edwards, Fowler and Pitcairn, along with Lewis County and parts of Jefferson and Oneida counties.
Previously, agricultural property tax assessments were capped at ten percent, but in just 15 years, property taxes doubled for family farms, Blankenbush’s post-vote statement said.
Both Ritchie and Blankenbush say farmers in New York State are paying much higher taxes on farmland than others around the country, but provide different benchmarks.
New York State farmers’ property taxes per farm acre average $26.21, far higher than the national average of $6.75 per farm acre, according to Ritchie.
New York farmers have the second-highest property taxes in the nation, and are paying over three times the national average in property taxes – $38 per acre compared to $12 per acre nationally, according to Blankenbush.
The bill was sent to the governor.