Thursday, May 7, 2015

Letter written to Gov. Kasich concerning CAUV tax law

Letter To Gov. Kasich On CAUV Issues

Dear Mr. Kasich:
This is my first letter to you. Two dozen farmers contributed to this letter during the last 6 months. This is our request:
1. Remind ODTE to follow Ohio constitution in all respects. They must delete all presumptively illegal minimums and replace it with an actual value for woodlands ie: our proposed CAUV $50/acre (instead of the current minimum of $230/acre). Recently we have heard the Auditors in Ashtabula and Geauga are proposing a woodlands tax rate of $1-2/acre (instead of my $6.31/acre). We and our auditors know that if the current woodlands taxation is continued, huge reductions in woodlands will also continue and then we will need costly new water treatment and water purification facilities. Please do the math and give us relief now soon enough to matter for our enviroment, our retirement and our children.
2.Ohio Constitution states schools are to be funded by the most reliable and equitable sources via income tax.......not property real estate tax and least of all by farm and woodlands CAUV taxes. It looks like you chose to ignore the Ohio Constitution, the Ohio Supreme Court School Funding Decisions and every farm advocate when you ordered/supported/allowed raising rural farmland property tax (by a huge 300-600%) since 2010 to enable a small cut in income tax.
3. For months we heard you, Governor Kasich wanted to distance himself from any controversial (CAUV) issues which could undermine his Presidential campaign. You ordered our elected Ohio Senators and Representatives to follow your lead on CAUV and so they have had to ignore their constituents. Then in April, Gov Kasich danced on the graves of farmers when you bragged the (billions) increase in CAUV made up for the State funding cuts in rural poor districts. Then at the same time the CAUV increases enabled no funding cuts to city schools and a small cut in State income tax.
 4. When farmers got their new high tax bills, several legislators, farm unions and several organizations representing many counties asked ODTE for relief. ODTE decided the press release showing a 54% reduction in CAUV (increase) for woodlands on Miami Silt Loam soil sounded great and would reduce opposition......however the vast majority of Ohio Woodlands are on much poorer soils which would move the 54% down to less than 10% savings on our 2017 tax bills. Any relief is locked out until 2017 so everything supposedly agreed to by ODT/Gov/OFBF is just maybe a hope. Sadly we have seen the Gov Kasich control OFBF leadership so they have been forced to suppress member commentary and put on a token CAUV Appeal show which failed to achieve the goals of their constituents.
5. ODTE claimed OFA and also an extensive well documented survey by OFA board member David Coldwell were not considered. OFBF said they had not done a survey and rely on OFA and ODNR to run Forestry surveys. And yet OFBF's anecdotal info from a couple of undocumented random phone calls was used to come up with the incorrect new very low clearing cost of $1000 instead of $2300-$3500 found in OFA surveys. ODTE obviously has refused to incorporate the best numbers here.
6. The Ashtabula CAUV Task Force (Chaired by SR99 John Patterson) sent ODTE solutions for the CAUV program on 11/24/14, refinements on 2/10/15 and follow-up questions on 3/18/15. We also reviewed solutions with House Ways and Means Committee. ODTE has ignored these solutions which ODTE could by reversal of their own administrative changes...completely repeal the 2014 CAUV tax increase. We ask you to investigate ODTE and then you answer our follow-up questions of 3/18/15. I asked SR99 John Patterson to please forward his cover letter and those 3/18/15 follow-up questions to your office.
7. SB#1 and HB#61 were quickly passed but when woodland owners asked to amend the bill to provide tax benefits....we heard Gov Kasich ordered no amendments to keep the bill clean for early passage. So you please express your support for a separate clean bill for woodlands tax benefits now.
If you are able to reverse the CAUV destruction, order ODT to follow Ohio constitution, then you will have proven yourself at the state level. Then you could begin to look for a promotion to be our national leader. But if you refuse to fix these items, then it is our wish that your political career will soon be over.
Several of my fellow farmers have written you about CAUV. None have received a personal letter in response. Some did get a form letter with outdated 2013 attachments about the history of CAUV before the current tax increase. You know I am looking for a more hands on response directly from you. Please send me your email if you would like a PDF file.
Tell your appointee Joe Testa to humble himself, act on our 9 recommendations and answer to you so you can answer to us.. the farmers. We want to hear from you and how you will support the farmers on!
Fred Pierce-Ruhland, Landowner Member Ashtabula CAUV Task Force.
4352 Fox Road
Kingsville, Ohio 44048

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