State decides to eliminate financial support for the Williamson Act

    The California Land Conservation Act of 1965 - commonly referred to as the Williamson Act - enables local governments to enter into contracts with private landowners for the purpose of restricting specific parcels of land to agricultural or related open space use. In return, landowners receive property tax assessments which are much lower than normal because they are based upon farming and open space uses as opposed to full market value. 

  Local governments receive an annual subvention of forgone property tax revenues from the state via the Open Space Subvention Act of 1971. As a result of the State's decision to eliminate state financial support for the Williamson Act Program, Assemblyman Jim Nielsen introduced Assembly Bill 1265 in an attempt to find a short term solution to preserve the Williamson Act without using general fund dollars.

  AB 1265 passed both the Senate and Assembly without a dissenting vote and the Governor signed it into law on July 15, 2011.The bill provides that farmers will give up 10% of the amount saved by being in the Williamson Act over their Proposition 13 or Market values, whichever is lower. In exchange, the term of the contract is reduced 10%, i.e. from ten years to nine. The landowner still retains 90% of the benefit of the contract and the County replaces a portion of the lost revenue due to the loss of subvention. It has a sunset provision of 2015. If a contract holder does not wish to participate, then they need to exercise the option to non-renew their contract.

  To approximate the impact of the additional amount due to Assembly Bill 1265 legislation to retain the Williamson Act, the Tulare County Assessor/Clerk-Recorder has placed a file on the Tulare County Website. This file may be found *here*. To roughly estimate the impact of the new legislation on one's property taxes, click the link below; then look up your APN in the table. The table uses the 2011-12 Delivered Roll values to estimate the effect. Any changes to an individual APN's values (either "Prop. 13" and/or Williamson Act values) for the 2012 lien date (January 1, 2012) will alter the additional amount due for the upcoming tax year. Williamson Act contract holders may also want to consult a tax specialist. In the meantime, direct questions about how you may be affected by AB 1265 to: Tulare County Assessor/Clerk-Recorder @ 559-636-5100