Rutherford Co. assessor re-evaluating farm statuses - WSMV Channel 4

Rutherford Co. assessor re-evaluating farm statuses

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MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

A newly-elected official is giving a big, unexpected Christmas gift in Rutherford County, and the people benefiting from it have no clue whatsoever.

In the past few years, former property assessor Bill Boner removed dozens of farmers and agricultural workers from the designated tax status for farms.

Their bills and frustration skyrocketed.

But new property assessor Rob Mitchell has been looking at properties across the county that lost "Greenbelt" status, which is intended for those dedicated to farm, forestry or open space uses.

Greenbelt status equals big tax breaks for farmers, and the idea is to keep taxes low in order to keep family farms intact.

Mitchell has slowly and carefully gone through stacks of properties and contacted the owners to tell them the county is willing to restore their Greenbelt status, but then something happened this week.

"We got a call about a property that had been a family farm since 1970. It was removed from Greenbelt, and taxes were assessed on it. They were then forced to sell the farm. So I wanted to know how many more may we have out there," he said.

Sure enough, he and his staff found 20 small family farms that were removed from Greenbelt that are obviously farms, so without delay and without even contacting the owners Mitchell is returning them to their agriculture status and the lower tax rates it brings.

"I can't undo what was done in the past, but going forward I can make things right for folks. So it's just a way for the assessor's office to say 'Merry Christmas,'" Mitchell said.

Since Mitchell took office, he has returned more than $1 million dollars in tax breaks to county residents.

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