IASB on farmland assessment
Editor. You have performed a useful public service in surfacing various concerns regarding taxes on farmland ("Farmland Property Taxes: Fair or Not?" Illinois Issues, May 1991).
However, although precisely quoted, some comments attributed to me were reported out of context and made it appear that I favor abolishing the productivity-based assessment of farmland. That is not the case.
My comments were lifted from an editorial in our Association magazine. The editorial simply made the point that farmland owners should appreciate what they have and stop pursuing further reductions in their property tax burden. The productivity-based system is fair and is probably more accurate and workable than the market-based assessments that the rest of us live with.
Neither I nor the Illinois Assosciation of School Boards favor abandoning the current system of assessing and taxing farm property. Although rural schools that rely heavily on farmland taxes have been severely shaken by the declining agricultural economy of the past decade, farm economists tell us that the market value of most farmland fell even further than productivity values. Therefore, many schools would have suffered great financial losses if farmland assessments had not been shifted from market value to productivity value.
Although state policymakers should not be looking at increased farmland taxation as a way to reduce the state's obligations to poor rural schools, farmland owners should stop looking for new ways to avoid paying their fair share to support schools.
The Martinsville site
Editor: In your April 1991 issue I was misquoted by Mr. Dan Shomon Jr. in his article"- Nuclear waste site hearings: Overcoming "political science?" I was quoted as saying: "I think the Martinsville site is absolutely safe." and "Everything has some risk, but you design a system that if something does happen, you can take care of it no matter how small it is."
Would this quotation have been correct, my statements would have been highly inconsistent. How could I possibly have said the Martinsville site is absolutely safe and then say that everything has some risk?
What I actually said was, "I cannot judge whether the Martinsville site is absolutely safe because I do not have all the technical information or the expertise.'' Then I added, "Nothing is absolutely safe. Everything has some risk.
Edward L. Helminski
Editor's note: Dan Shomon says that he quoted Mr. Helminski accurately. Shomon's typed notes of the interview include the quote as it appeared. Neither party taped the interview.
Correction: Orland Hills Village President Lorin Schab should not have been included in our unofficial listing of current women mayors in the metropolitan Chicago area (June 1991). Mr. Schab does not qualify for the list. Illinois Issues regrets the error.
Readers: Your comments on articles and columns are welcome. Please keep letters brief (250 words); we reserve the right to excerpt them so as many as space allows can be published. Send your letter to
Caroline Gherardini, Editor
July 1991/Illinois Issues/5