Mason County must Grow Rural Investment & Profits
After World War II and until the 1990’s Mason County citizens regularly had better government services and local economy than any other KY county not in a major urban area.
During that period, the rural area’s tobacco and dairy revenue balanced Maysville’s industrial and retail activity. Tax revenue from this broad range of economic activity provided the superior services all of us came to expect. This balanced economic underwriting local services meant no one had a high tax burden. Our relatively low tax burden and high level of public services created an environment attractive to new residents and businesses.
Because we are looking at Mason County’s economic trends over decades, all figures are stated in 2022 dollars.
In 1978 Mason County dairy farmers generated $25 million in revenue. In 2017 dairy farm revenue was only $1.2 million. In 1982 Mason County farmers generated $50 million in tobacco sales. In 2017 they sold less than $10 million of tobacco.
These two economic changes resulted in 63.8 million fewer dollars flowing into Mason County each year.
Tobacco and dairy’s profitability supported crop rotations that were several years long. The new economic pressure forced over 16,000 acres of highly erodible land into perennial no-till corn and soybean.
No-till corn on typical Mason County land causes at least 7 tons of soil loss per acre per year. No-till soybeans on similar ground cause at least 85 tons of soil loss per acre per year.
Assume approximately equal acres of corn and soybeans are planted. Even with the best no-till practices, 16,000 acres on 10% slope will lose 733,131 Tons of topsoil.
Even with this devastating soil loss, rural income is less than half of when tobacco and dairy were fully contributing. Current farming practices cause unstainable soil loss and ag chemicals contamination of aquifers.
Continuing this amount of soil erosion must result in lower real estate property taxes as income per acre continues to drop. As rural landowners can provide less support to local tax districts, other taxpayers face hard choices. Will they reduce the services they expect from local tax districts or increase their contribution to replace the lost rural tax revenue?
Higher tax rates or fewer services will make Mason County less desirable, causing property values to drop countywide.
To avoid those two choices, we need a way to Grow Rural Investment & Profits. Many ideas have been investigated.
Buffalo, hemp, confinement hogs or poultry are but a few that have not yet proven workable.
Recent declines in Mason County’s population make finding new tax revenue even more critical.
Mason County can have a brighter future if our next comprehensive plan encourages large-scale solar to locate here.
That large-scale solar land can be returned to agriculture is proven because both KY and Mason County require a reclamation surety bond to be posted before any work starts. In addition, the sod under solar provided 30 years for the soil to recover while protecting that land from no-till corn and soybean rotations.
The $100,000 capital investment in each large-scale solar acre will generate property tax revenue to support our local tax districts. That revenue will help all Mason County residents pay for local services.
If Mason County recruits 6,000 acres of large-scale solar, those acres will be protected from no-till corn and soybean ag chemicals and soil erosion for 30 years. Those acres will also pay an EXTRA half a million dollars in local tax each year. Over 30 years, that will mean local tax districts will receive over $15 million of tax money from outside our county.
Our county’s current trends show why we can not sustain the status quo. 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.
If you do not favor large-scale solar, how do you propose to change our current trends of:
- Unsustainable soil erosion
- Declining Population
- Declining tax base to support local services.
We must change these trends for our future Mason County citizens. They deserve a healthy and prosperous life.
The Maysville Mason County Joint Planning Commission will recommend the next Comprehensive Plan to our legislative bodies. Let the members know your opinion on current trends and how you think they should be changed.
Mason County Commissioner Candidates position on solar
Day – voted for the solar ordinance
Frame – Said she campaigned for commissioner to stop solar, while still voting in JPC solar process.
O’Hearn – voted for the solar ordinance
Sheppeck – states he will stop large-scale solar
McKay – voted against the solar ordinance
Cokonhougher- Says she will not vote to stop large-scale solar