Farmers in southern Illinois could see their property-tax bill more than double, thanks to a new law changing how their land is assessed.
Illinois farmers pay property taxes on farmland based on its potential for yielding crops, referred to as a Productivity Index (PI).
The state caps any year-to-year changes at 10 percent. This has created a disparity over the years between areas. If a field in Champaign County sees a 10 percent increase, it could cost thousands of dollars more than a 10 percent increase on a field in southern Johnson County, where the soil quality is lower. Now, all counties are assessed at a statewide median.
Brenda Matherly with the Illinois Farm Bureau said farmers in southern Illinois aren't excited to hear about the changes, but they're mostly understanding.
"They recognize that there is some need to allow those lower (Production Indices) to catch up as far as value," Matherly said. "Are they doing cartwheels over it? No, but they do understand it."
Matherly said Illinois is one of the only states in the nation that caps the percentage that farmland tax values can be changed in a year.
The new statewide median PI is set to 111. According to the Department of Revenue, a farm with a low PI value of 82 would have paid $15.26 an acre in property taxes in 2014. Under the new formula, they will see a per-acre tax of $30.59.
Piatt and Macon Counties near Champaign have the highest median PI soil value, while Johnson County in southern Illinois has the lowest.