Mason County’s ag revenue trends
The comprehensive plan needs to Grow Rural Investment & Profits or shift substantial tax burden from rural to non rural taxpayers.
Maysville and Mason County’s local tax base supported vital services during the twentieth century. Our area’s rural and industrial activities balanced each other and generated tax revenue to support the above-average public services we have come to expect.
In recent years our rural area lost most of its two primary sources of revenue, Tobacco, and Dairy. The chart below shows revenue over time stated in 2022 dollars. (See http://www.usinflationcalculator.com for conversion factors)
Because USDA gathers these statistics every five years 2017 is the most recent data I can find.
In 2022 equivalent dollars, Mason County farm revenue dropped from just under $100 million to $40 million in 2017. Loosing 60% of revenue means either new rural revenue must be found or non-rural property must carry a substantially larger share of the total tax burden.
KY taxes on real estate are calculated based on the income the real estate generates. As income per acre declines real estate property taxes paid must also decline. Investments in rural Mason County that increase an acre’s profitability will increase the local real estate property tax that acre pays.
Some would tell us to wait until we win the economic growth lottery and land a new industry that will build a massive new plant and employ several hundred folks. While I hope that happens, we need to find ways to grow our rural investment in the meantime.
Troy Craycraft, Mason County’s PVA, testified under oath that Large-scale solar can make these contributions to local tax districts’ revenue. (Assumes lease rate of $650/acre/year)
There are certainly other ways to grow property tax revenue. Investing in large-scale swine and/or poultry confinement operations can also increase local real estate property tax revenue by increasing profit per acre.
As we discuss Maysville-Mason County’s next comprehensive plan, I hope we can agree that we must not simply embrace our status quo. We must work together to find the best way to fund our local services in the face of reduced rural income and a declining population. Together we can ensure our future while we recruit an economic development whale to our area.
Our county’s current trends show why we can not sustain the status quit. We must instead work together to recruit activities that will Grow Rural Investment & Profits. Doing this will dramatically increase our tax base. That increased tax base will fund government services. Both Companies and people like services that are paid for by others.