10/14/04 — Buyout will bring tax-revenue loss for Wayne County

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Buyout will bring tax-revenue loss for Wayne County

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on October 14, 2004 2:08 PM

Wayne County will lose about $143,000 in property taxes next fiscal year due to the tobacco buyout, a county official says.

David Ward, county tax administrator, said the reduction is from property taxes on the tobacco allotment.

"The loss is not going to be that great," said Wayne County Manager Lee Smith. "I was actually surprised how low it is."

Smith said that increasing the tax rate to equal the loss in revenue would not be needed and that next year's budget will not have to be adjusted. They will look for other revenues. The county's total budget is $101 million.

It is a loss and something the county government will have to deal with, but the bigger effect will be on the farmers, he added.

Tony Ballance, a Wayne County farmer, said the value on the farm land is going to decline because farmers will not be able to generate the same amount of revenue they did with tobacco. Unless the land has a commercial value or is in the development area, it is uncertain whether the land will be worth as much five years from now, he added.

Ballance said his farm will lose about 55 cents per pound of annual income with the quota buyout.

The loss in property taxes is less in Wayne County than in surrounding counties.

E. Lee Worsley Jr., Greene County manager, said the buyout will result in a loss of $154,709 in property tax levy for the county next fiscal year.

Smith said the loss in Wilson County is around 10 or 15 times higher than the loss in Wayne County.

Buyout payments are based on the 2002 tobacco quota allotment. The allotment for Wayne County was 13.4 million pounds, according to Rick Tharrington with the Farm Service Agency. There were 6,000 acres of tobacco in the county in 2002.

The buyout provides payments of $7 per pound to quota holders and $3 per pound to growers. The payments, based on the 2002 quota level, would be distributed over a 10-year period.

There are 436 growers in the county, and Tharrington estimated that there are 4,500 quota owners in the county.