Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bad Ruling by Department -- Part Two

On April 6th, I posted part one of this awful story.  In this segment I will outline some of my perspectives, and those of others that I have received since that posting.

First, it must be perfectly clear to everyone that the folks behind the idea of re-assessing properties near CAFOs are a direct result of the Kewaunee Cares group.  I will point out why this ruling was ridiculous and explain the faults with this ruling.

First the ruling itself, you can find at this link -  Kliment Department of Revenue Case 2017-81-01.
On the 3rd page of this 22 page PDF you will see who attended the DOR appeal of Oct 30, 2017.  In addition to the 2 DOR staff and 1 Pierce Township Assessor there were 7 Kewaunee Cares people in the hearing room with other Kewaunee Cares folks in the hall who couldn't get in to the room.
Do you think their show of force might have intimidated the DOR staff?  Just a thought, because that's what they do, they intimidate, they bully, and they have been caught in lies in the past.  Therefore anything they do now is suspect.  Their history of bullying is well know!

Here is a list of the Kewaunee Cares people who attended the Oct 30 appeal meeting in Green Bay;
Bill Iwen, Andrea Iwen, Nancy Utesch, Dick Swanson, Robin Mulhaney, Tom Kretney and Lynn Utesch.  These were the folks that were inside the meeting room. 

The Kliments who moved to Kewaunee County sometime around 1995 moved into their property on County Trunk D.  The Ebert Farm was there long before the arrival of the Kliments, in fact, I recall that farm being there when I was a kid in the late 50s.  So, you move into a neighborhood that has farms around you and now you don't like it?  I understand the Ebert Farm has grown considerably, but so have many other farms in this county.  However, when the Kliments purchased the property the Eberts had about 2,000 animals along with 1,300 hogs.

The Kliments own about 14+ acres of land with improvements on that property.  The local assessor found the value to be $245,300 ($42,300 land / $203,000 Improvements).  After the DOR reviewed their case, the value was reduced some $26,400 with the value of the land reduced to $36,800 and the Improvements reduced to $176,600 or a new total of $213,400.  So with the new assessed value of $2213,400 they effectively achieved a 13% reduction in their taxes or about $600 in actual dollars.

Now, the first thing that comes to my mind is why is anyone wanting to decrease their property value?  That just doesn't make sense.  The second thing that comes to my mind is, will this ruling have an effect on everyone's property value in the County with regards to selling of their property?

Here is the "SUMMARY OF FINDINGS" the DOR published.

  • The value of property located more than a mile away from a CAFO is not impacted
  • The value of property located within any distance from a CAFO that is smaller than 4,000 units is not impacted.
  • The value of property located within one-quarter mile of a large CAFO (greater than 4,000 units is reduced by 13%
  • The value of property located between 1/4 and one mile of a large CAFO is reduced by 8%

Do you see how arbitrary this ruling is?  What if, the 4,000 unit farm had 3,899 units?  OK, so I am a farmer with 200 cows within 1 mile of the a 4,000 unit farm am I entitled to a discount of 8%?  What is ludicrous is that the final ruling according to the DNR can be applied across the County. All ground is not created equal in this County.  By the way, I live in the country and my land value has increased greatly over the past 15 years.

What has more of a dramatic influence on the value of our land in the County is all the bad press the Kewaunee Cares and Progressives have done to bad-mouth our County.  Just this morning on WTCH radio of Shawano Wisconsin, 15 minutes of a 30 minute morning talk show was devoted to bashing Kewaunee County and the issues of polluted streams and wells caused by CAFOs in our county.  Every week on Thursday morning WTCH at 8:00AM they talk politics.  One week it is the Republicans turn, the next week it's the Democrats.  Today it was the Democrat Party of Shawano County.

Once again, in the Kliment case, a total reduction in taxes was about $600.  That $600 will have to be made up by taxpayers.  What if you had 200 cases like this with the same average tax reduction.  That would be $120,000 of taxes made up by others, but what is potentially worse is the regional DOR in Green Bay would be paralyzed in completing the research for all the appeals.

This was an appeal of the value of one property in one township in Kewaunee County.  There were no other appeals heard by the Green Bay DOR for that same reason - the proximity to a large farm.  Yet the DOR reported their findings can be applied across Kewaunee County.  This sets a horrible precedence, not just for Kewaunee County land values, but for any landowner in the State of Wisconsin.  Consider that the counties of Brown, Kewaunee, Manitowoc and Calumet have a high number of CAFOs which could trigger an influx of revaluations in 2018.  Also, now with this precedent, what will the DOR do with revaluations of properties with proximity to wind turbines, hog farms, chicken farms, slaughterhouses, gas fired electrical plants, nuclear plants and interstate highways?  Where does this end?

The DOR needs to adhere to the rules any and all assessors use in calculating land/property values.