Any product, service or asset is worth what you say it’s worth as long as it can do what it’s supposed to do.

So how do you put a taxable value on normally productive farmland that can’t possible raise a crop?

That’s where the Burt County Board of Supervisors finds itself.

During its Sept. 27 meeting, the board met with Wally Lydick to again discuss adjusting tax values on farmland that has seen a crop destroyed, if indeed one could even be planted, on land that has been flooded much of the summer by the Missouri River.

After months of work, Lydick presented the board with a proposal.

“My idea is no tax on flooded land,” he said. “Unless you have other ideas, that’s my idea.”

To make his plan work, Lydick said farmers would provide the county assessor’s office with copies of forms that are filed with the Farm Service Agency showing the number of acres that couldn’t be planted and acres that failed, all due to flooding. No tax would be assessed on those acres only. In the years when it doesn’t flood, taxes would still be assessed.

“When I first started with this, I was looking at assessed value,” Lydick said. “I’ve had one part flooded five times in nine years. I still get taxed the same, but (the land) won’t bring the same value. Who’d buy it?”

County Assessor Joni Renshaw said her office already encourages farmers to bring in their FSA forms to help determine the value of their land.

But, she added, she can’t just arbitrarily change property value.

“There are regulations we have to follow. We have to have something that lets us,” she said. “This is something the Legislature is going to have to address.”

The board directed Renshaw to come up with a plan, perhaps developing a model that could be used by other riverside counties.

“You’re going to have to guide us on this, board chairman Dave Schold told Renshaw. “This is way beyond us.”

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