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NEWPORT CITY - â€śVermont would not be Vermont today without the Current Use program,â€ť said Sylvia Jensen, agriculture land use planner for the State of Vermont.
Jensen was one of three presenters to speak at a question and answer session with local farmers at the Emory A. Hebard State Office Building Tuesday. It was one of Sectary of Agriculture Chuck Rossâ€™ listening sessions he is conducting in communities across the state.
â€śCurrent Use is fair taxation,â€ť states the website ruralvermont.org. â€śIn order to encourage the use of land for agricultural production or forest management, the State of Vermont has adopted a policy that allows farmers and foresters to enroll their land in the Current Use program. The land is then taxed at the use value rather than the fair market value â€“ so the land is appraised at what it is used for, rather than what it could be sold for at the highest market value. Farmers and foresters then pay taxes based on this appraisal rate, which is calculated through a statutory formula. The Current Use Program includes a Land Use Change Tax as a disincentive to develop land. The program is administered by the Vermont Department of Taxes.â€ť
Sen. Bobby Starr of North Troy was on the legislative committee that started the Current Use program in 1987.
The bill, said Jensen, brought stability to the land base.
â€śBeing unable to earn an income and being unable to pay your taxes leads to a demise of an industry, said Jensen. The state, under the Current Use program, is reimbursing Vermont communities more than $13 million. The amount has risen about 25 percent over the past few years. â€śUnder its current trend itâ€™s unsustainable.â€ť
Farmers have to be diligent by making sure they are being assessed properly, Jensen said. Starr added that some town assessors are over assessing their properties and property owners need to start paying attention because property owners donâ€™t pay additional tax on land enrolled in Current Use.
Please see The Newport Daily Express Thursday for the complete story.