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February 4, 2014

Supervisors pondering fate of county farm

CLINTON — The fate of the Clinton County farm is being considered.

The Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussed Monday whether it will continue to own and rent out approximately 160 acres of farm land in Charlotte. This is the last crop season for the current leaseholder and the county would be required to notify them of any changes by Sept. 1.

“And I realize there’s always the argument that we have that income year after year, after year, after year,” Chairwoman Jill Davisson. “But, then the other argument is, ‘Should the county really be landlords?’”

Currently, the county receives $65,883.30 rent for one year. Once the lease is up, the county would be able to re-negotiate the rent and accept bids from area farmers.

“The other question we had was, because of the price of farm ground now, ‘Is not putting this back on the tax rolls a better use of that ground,” Davisson said.

The county farmland’s Corn Suitability Rating averages at 81 out of 100, with some portions rating at 87 and some at 76. Supervisor Brian Schmidt said this quality of land is bringing in between $13,000 and $15,000 per acre. With these values, a sale of the farm could bring in more than $2 million.

“It’s one of the better farms in the county,” Davisson said.

If the county decides to sell the Charlotte farm, the board still would need to determine whether to sell it in one piece or two and what the proceeds would be used for. The money could be used to pay back existing bonds or put into the Secondary Roads Department for county road projects. Sitting in on the Monday meeting, Sheriff Rick Lincoln added that the money could help with a new jail.

“Going forward, we do need to decide,” Schmidt said.

The board agreed to revisit the issue between now and the summer, when a decision will have to be made.


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