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Re: Property taxes question

  • Subject: Re: [cg] Property taxes question
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Tue, 20 May 2003 08:30:55 EDT


Most community gardens, as you surmised, garden on municipally  owned park or 
depressed vacant lot tracts which are leased from our city landlords at 
nominal rates or for free. In other situations, the garden ownership has been 
transferred to Land Trusts which manage these spaces as public amenities for 
the public good. The theory is that these gardens are a  means of stabilizing 
the community, housing stock and tax rolls of the surrounding commuity by a 
beneficial use. 

The alternative, i.e.,  a rubble and garbage strewn, dangerous, vermin 
infested lot where fires are set, drug dealing, prostitution and other 
anti-social activities take place is a drain on the city's treasury.  Visits 
from firemen to put our fires that could spread to  adjacent buildings, 
police sorties to quiet noisy drug dealers or to investigate drug trafficking 
and/or prostitution reported by neighborhood residents, sporadic visits from 
the Sanitation dept to clean up bad smelling messes and the Medical Examiner 
to collect corpses dumped through criminal activity all cost cash-strapped 
municipalities a considerable amount of money. 

This is why fed-up neighborhood residents who take over these spaces get the 
grudging permission of municipalities, usually after the fact, to do so. 

Jill - property taxes are political.  An idea: Churches do not pay property 
taxes for their religious sites because of a political deal.  Many 
not-for-profits which benefit their communities pay no or drastically reduced 
property taxes.  As you are growing food for low-income residents and 
providing a volunteer-run neighborhod space, a "point of light" in Republican 
Bush senior-speak, you should try to get your local officials to advocate for 
"tax relief", keeping the money that you would be paying to the municipality 
in the pockets of a neighborhood volunteer organization that so selflessly 
serves its low income community.  Get a few local pastors behind you.  Also, 
it's worth letting a few local newspapers and TV stations know about your 
garden's good work in feeding the community, what was on the space before,  
and the obtuseness of taxing a positive non-for-profit use like your garden. 

In the interim, see what is cheaper (agricultural rates should be cheaper, 
but be sure to read the rates before declaring, or even seeing if there are 
agricultural rates in Cedar Rapids) and if all fails, render onto Caesar...

If the tax man got Al Capone, he'll certainly get you. 

Have a lovely day,
Adam Honigman


<< Subj:     [cg] Property taxes question
 Date:  5/19/03 9:12:40 PM Eastern Daylight Time
 From:  JillWUGS@aol.com
 Sender:    community_garden-admin@mallorn.com
 To:    community_garden@mallorn.com
 Question for Community Gardeners- do any of your organizations- Non-profit- 
 neighborhood associations, greening organizations- who own your own land and 
 gardens- have to pay property taxes? Just wondering- we do in Cedar Rapids, 
 Iowa. We are a 501(c)3. Our taxes aren't expensive. I think we are the only 
 ones who pay property taxes in the country- but are there other groups? If 
 you do pay property taxes and are in an urban area- do you pay residential 
 rates or Ag. rates? Can you let me know. We challenged our taxes once and 
 assessor made the decision and turned us down. (This is the same assessor 
 wants to tax at higher rate  for lower cost/ income homes, those under 
 $150,000 than the upper crust ones $300,000-$500,000- $1M.) We just need a 
 little more information of what is going on around the country. Thank you 
 all----jill jones, Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association, Cedar 
 Iow >>

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