Highest and Best Use

This title has always been a favorite of the tax collectors to justify why they can raise the property tax on all land across the board. It starts in our towns and cities as inflation, demand for more houses and commercial development, all place an upward pressure on land cost paid for by increasing wages and the constant rise in our population, creating a demand on a finite amount of land. In my case where I have always  used the land for the raising of livestock and dry land farming with no thought of ever selling. But my land says the tax assessor has gone up in value, this is true but if you have no plans to sell then it’s just one more expense that I can’t necessarily pass on to the consumer. The tax collector soon follows with a bigger demand, never mind that maybe in the same year I received a triple whammy, cattle and hay prices went down and it was a drought year. This scenario has played out all to often and for some who were on shaky ground to begin with a sale of their ranch was forced upon them. There has been some relief over the years with the passage of the Williamson Act and Proposition 13. For the land developers rises in taxes is not a big issue as the increased taxes were just passed along in the cost of a new home or commercial building.          What I would like to explain to all the appraiser and collectors that we in agriculture need a broader definition of the term Highest and Best Use. With that said, how about all you, collectors of part of my wealth, recognize that what ever is left of Mother Nature’s beautiful works will also be granted Highest and Best Use status. To be awarded a tax rate that these undeveloped  ranches will be able to continue with their jobs of providing food and fiber, to always be available for those out for a Sunday drive to reconnect with there roots. Or to spend sometime at a guest ranch for some horseback riding and relaxation. Wildlife needs a guarantee that we will not make them homeless or possibly extinct by the constant needs of developers for ever more homesites. Last and most important for the survival of we the people are places where green growing things abound so that photosynthesis can continue to change sunlight into life.                    We all need to join together and say that the Highest and Best Use for open space is open space and is not to be taxed out or zoned out of existence by governments insatiable need for “always more cash”.                  

See Ya                   Jack 

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