NewsPublic Affairs / July 31, 2017

Bartholomew County CAFO Neighbors Win Property Tax Cuts

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Bartholomew County CAFO Neighbors Win Property Tax Cuts

Some of the residents who will get a property tax break live near this CAFO in Hope, outside Columbus.

Annie Ropeik/IPB File Photo

Half a dozen homeowners in rural Bartholomew County will get to pay less in property taxes because they live near concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.

The decision comes about a year after the families in the town of Hope appealed to the county about the impact of large hog farms on their home values.

After the county denied their requests in March, the neighbors appealed the case to the State Board of Tax Review.

That gave county assessor Lew Wilson another chance to review the appeals, as well as extra research from the neighbors and the Hoosier Environmental Council. His decision means the state board will not have to hear the case.

“Even though it’s taken a period of time, I think everyone feels like that it’s been fair for them, and fair for the county,” Wilson said in an interview at an HEC workshop in Columbus Saturday. The topic: living near CAFOs.

Wilson is currently finalizing cuts of between 15 and 26.7 percent for each neighbor who appealed.

Nancy Banta is getting the biggest of those breaks. She calls it a “victory,” which she hopes will prompt more neighbors to make the same request and send a message to the county about the risks of permitting more CAFOs.

“They are starting to recognize, ‘hey, this does have an effect on economics and the value of the home,’ and that’s just a small aspect,” she says.

It’s not clear yet how much revenue these cases could cost the county, or if that will lead to bigger changes. Officials tabled one idea in March, a codified tax break for CAFO neighbors.

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