Moffat County Farm Bureau requesting ag tax exemption | CraigDailyPress.com

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Moffat County Farm Bureau requesting ag tax exemption

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At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 3-0, Jan. 25 and Jan. 28 meeting minutes.

• Approved, 3-0, a contract for tutoring services and GED preparation between the Moffat County Department of Social Services and Colorado Student Care, of Craig, not to exceed $12,000.

• Approved, 3-0, a resolution to appoint members of the Northwest Regional Workforce Development Board and to appoint a local elected official to the Colorado Rural Workforce Consortium Board of Local Elected Officials.

• Approved, 3-0, certification of the Moffat County public trustee and fourth quarter report of revenues totaling $6,840 and expenses totaling $2,293.99

• Approved, 3-0, a senior citizen application for snow removal.

• Approved, 3-0, a request for temporary closure of county road 75P from Feb. 12 through March 31

• Approved, 3-0, a personnel requisition for the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office for a regular, part-time, budgeted court security deputy at the Moffat County Courthouse.

• Discussed a Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership long-range, comprehensive strategic economic development plan.

Brent Brighton, a Moffat County Farm Bureau Board member, presented an idea Tuesday he believes would help level the playing field for Moffat County farmers and ranchers.

At its regular Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission heard a presentation from Brighton concerning the implementation of an agricultural sales tax exemption in the county.

Brighton asked the county waive the 2-percent county sales tax on agricultural equipment purchased by qualified farmers and ranchers.

However, budget analyst Tinneal Gerber said such a proposal would need to go before voters in the November election due to provisions in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Currently, the state has an agriculture sales tax exemption for those who qualify and counties are also allowed to waive sales tax on agriculture equipment if voters approve, Gerber said.

Moffat County currently has no other tax exemptions, she said.

Brighton said the idea has received general support from the county's farmers and ranchers.

The tax exemption, he said, would help Moffat County be competitive with other neighboring states when it comes to agriculture equipment sales.

"With the state of Wyoming and the state of Utah basically being our neighboring (states), it makes it difficult for our farmers and ranchers to be able to compete," he said, adding those states have significant agricultural tax exemptions. "They have got basically a 5- to 7-percent tax advantage over us, so that's a 5- to 7-percent profit advantage."

An agriculture tax exemption would also help the local economy, Brighton said.

"It is going to give farmers and ranchers an incentive to buy locally instead of trying to go out (somewhere else)," he said. "I mean, it is not very far to the Wyoming border … it is not that far especially when it comes to a purchase that is going to cost a farmer or a rancher thousands of dollars."

Brighton said the Farm Bureau isn't asking for "something special that nobody else has," but is just "trying to get on par with everyone else."

"If it has to go to a whole vote, maybe people won't understand that and I think it is probably going to have to be something that the Farm Bureau would have to organize and try and show people, 'Hey, we are not trying to get something special,'" he said.

Brighton also presented the idea to the Craig City Council during its regular Tuesday meeting.

City Attorney Kenny Wohl said the city currently conforms to several state tax exemptions, including agriculture equipment, as dictated in city code. However, Wohl said, local dealers might not have been aware of the exemption.

"That's great news," Brighton said at the council meeting.

The city council agreed to look into the matter further.

Gerber said a county tax exemption would have some, but not a lot, of impacts to the city's tax base.

"The city would be impacted by the county's part because the city does get a portion of our county sales tax," she said. "So there possibly could be some impacts there."

However, the nature of farm equipment sales in Moffat County also plays a part in the issue, she said.

"What happens is even if the businesses are in town, they are going to deliver it to that farm or ranch, so the delivery and actual title takes place in the county," she said. "So, they are only paying county sales tax anyways."

A county agriculture tax exemption ballot question would need to be approved by the county commission sometime before August, Gerber said.

Commissioner Tom Gray said he supports the agricultural tax exemption idea and would help see it onto the ballot if it has local support.

"I think it makes it fair," he said. "And I think a lot of policy, at least in the past, has been if advocates for something to go on the ballot come forward with some support, we'd put it on the ballot."

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