Oklahoma Farm Bureau is encouraging members to contact their state representative and urge a no vote on HB 2776 by Rep. Lonnie Sims.
The legislation would allow the governing body of a county – or county commissioners – to create a hazard mitigation district funded by a new property tax, upon approval of voters in the county.
The district would include all territory within the county. Unincorporated land is not exempted, which would subject farmers, ranchers and landowners to an additional property tax burden.
Authorized uses for the funds generated by the new tax include, but are not limited to:
- short-term and long-term acquisitions and improvements to the district;
- planning, designing, installing, constructing, operating and maintaining hazard mitigation capital improvements;
- procuring matching funds from the state or federal government;
- qualifying for state or federal disaster relief funds;
- purchasing and maintaining equipment and vehicles required to implement projects in a FEMA-approved hazard mitigation plan;
- efforts to acquire and demolish, relocate, or elevate structures in areas prone to flooding;
- providing funding for to county health departments for public health hazard mitigation plans; and
- funding cleanup following a hazard.
OKFB believes the bill would lead to an expansion of red tape and government bureaucracy at the county level by creating two new commissions to manage the district funds.
The legislation is only one in a series of property tax increase proposals being considered by lawmakers at the state Capitol this year.
Oklahoma farmers and ranchers are already reeling with the impact of depressed commodity prices, ever-increasing production costs and devastating natural disasters; now is not the time to inflict an additional property tax burden on agricultural producers.