BREAKING NEWS FROM THE
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A property-tax reduction that Sen. Ben Nelson receives by declaring that the acreage around his
hunting cabin is used primarily for agriculture is coming under scrutiny. Platte River
(Nelson’s campaign spokeswoman Marcia) Cady acknowledged that the primary use for the cabin Nelson built in 2001 was not for raising turkeys.
At issue is a 2001 application Nelson signed in which he said all of his 90 acres would be devoted to agricultural or horticultural use. His application, which was approved by (Sarpy County Assessor Dan) Pittman, allowed Nelson’s land to be admitted into the state’s “greenbelt” program.
is a special property tax category dating to 1972. It is a way to protect farmers from being taxed out of business in the face of encroaching urban development. Greenbelt
Under the law, the valuation of farmland near urban development must be based on its agricultural use – not the land’s market value.
That meant Nelson paid about $4,400 less in property tax last year than he would have if his land were not in the greenbelt program, according to
records. Sarpy County
When determining whether land qualifies, Pittman said he puts a heavy emphasis on the “primary” use of the land and whether it is for production of agricultural or horticultural products, such as raising corn or logging trees.
“Once a person applies and they have stated that they are an agriculture or horticultural use, unless we have any reason to believe that’s not right, we take the person at his word,” Pittman said.
He said he would seek the senator’s permission to walk the land next week.
If Pittman determines it is not primarily used for either agriculture or horticulture, he will send Nelson a letter informing him that he could owe three years’ back taxes.
Three years is as far back as the law allows to recover such taxes, Pittman said.