5/13/2013 8:00:00 AM Paulden meeting wades through ag classification, water issues
Patrick Whitehurst/The Daily Courier
State Sen. Steve Pierce speaks to the audience from the podium at the Paulden Community Center on Saturday. Pierce helped change the agricultural bill in 2011 to allow for some equine classifications. Approximately 20 property owners and concerned residents turned out for a meeting on agricultural tax designations in Paulden. State Rep. Karen Fann, below, and Yavapai County officials were on hand to explain the classification and how property owners can qualify for the tax classification to lower the amount of taxes paid each year.
Approximately 20 property owners and residents turned out for an informational seminar May 11 at the Paulden Community Center.
There, property owners and concerned citizens learned more about how they can take advantage of Yavapai County's property taxation under Arizona Revised Statutes agricultural classification, which now includes an equine designation as well.
Jane Anderson, president of the Paulden Area Community Organization, hosted the May 11 community meeting.
"We thought we would bring people here that can help us understand and straighten out what you actually have to do to get an agricultural classification for your property," Anderson said.
State Sen. Steve Pierce, state Rep. Karen Fann, both R-Prescott, Yavapai County Assessor Pamela Pearsall, equine assessor specialist Linda Bruner, Yavapai County Development Dervices Director Steve Mauk and Basilio Aja, with the Arizona Cattlemen's Association, explained the county and state's roles in the agricultural and equine classification process to those in attendance, particularly when it comes to how a property owner can qualify for it.
While the agricultural classification does not serve as a tax exemption, the classification does operate as an income-based assessment for taxes rather than assessed property values.
Pierce helped pass a bill in 2011 that added to the agricultural classification, particularly in regard to the placement of some equine classifications under agricultural and not under commercial categories.
Pierce said there are very few at the state capital with a background in agriculture.
"It's difficult to explain it to people. As long as they can buy what they need from the grocery store, they don't really need to think about agriculture or where food comes from," Pierce said. "And as long as they can turn the faucet on in Phoenix or wherever they are, they don't really think about water."
Bruner said there are approximately 3,600 parcels in Yavapai County currently taxed under the agricultural classification. Those interested in learning more about the classification are encouraged to contact the county assessor's office at 928-771-3220.
The county's biggest agricultural customer, she said, are businesses that use the land for grazing purposes. Some of the businesses that qualify for the classification include beekeeping, poultry farms and more. Businesses that do not qualify are warehousing facilities and fruit and vegetable packaging. Businesses eligible for the classification must also show a reasonable expectation of profit in order to qualify as well.
Fann spoke about other topics during the meeting as well, including bills pertaining to the state's racetrack facilities.
"Many of us here are involved with Yavapai Downs in the equine business side of what we do here. What those bills will be doing is not only creating safer environments for a lot of our racetracks, but also helping them generate the revenues they need to have," Fann said.
She also spoke about water issues, but said the topic has not been discussed recently because of the state's significant drop in development.
"However, we continue to keep working to ensure the Verde River is protected," she said.