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County of Madera


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On January 17, 2014, the Governor of California proclaimed a state of emergency due to the current drought conditions. On…

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Proposition 13, The Williamson Act & The Farmland Security Zone Act

Proposed Changes to Williamson Act Assessments pursuant to AB 1265

Assembly Bill 1265 was signed into law by the Governor on July 15, 2011 allowing Counties an opportunity to offset a portion of lost Williamson Act Subvention funds by amending Williamson Act contracts that will self renew on January 1, 2011. AB 1265 was developed with input from the California Farm Bureau Federation, the Resource Landowners Group, California State Association of Counties and the Regional Council of Rural Counties. This program is meant to be a temporary solution and sunsets on January 1, 2016.

The amended contracts would specify a 10% shorter contract term (9 years for Williamson Act, 18 Years for Farm Land Security Zone) in exchange for a 10% reduction in a landowner's property tax benefit. This payment from the landowners will go directly to the County's General Fund and the landowner will still receive 90% of the tax benefit provided by the Williamson Act.

The landowner has the option to non-renew their contract if they do not wish to participate, however the landowner would then incur additional taxes due to the properties non-renewal status. The additional amount of taxation is generally higher than the proposed 10% reduction in current tax benefit.

The Madera County Assessor's Office has provided an estimate of the impact of AB 1265 on Williamson Act Parcels. The estimate is based on 2011 fiscal year tax roll and is not a basis for a tax bill and should not be used to estimate future tax bills. You must have your Assessor's Parcel Number (APN #) in order to identify your parcel. This can be found on your current tax bill, click HERE to locate your APN #. You must also have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to view this report.

Access to this report and further instructions on how to use it can be accessed by clicking here.

Proposition 13

Proposition 13 was an initiative passed by the voters on November 7, 1978. It called for a limitation on increases in property taxes. Consequently, at the time of acquisition of real property, a Proposition 13 "base year value" of the total property is established, which becomes the initial taxable value of the property. The base year value can be increased each year by a maximum of 2%. The value derived each year after acquisition is called the "factored base year value." The taxable value of property can never be greater than the Prop 13 "factored base year value."

The Williamson Act

In 1965, the Legislature passed the California Land Conservation Act, commonly known as the "Williamson Act." The landowner and the county enter into a contract, which, each year, automatically renews ten years into the future. The owner of the property promises not to develop the property, and the landowner typically benefits from lower property taxes.

The land and any growing improvements (trees and vines) are valued on their income earning ability. Valuation of the land and growing improvements is done by a formula called the Restricted Value formula, which, in simplified form, states: "Value is equal to net income divided by a capitalization rate." If the net income to land is $5,000 per year, and the cap rate is 5% (.05), the land value will be $100,000. The net income of any growing improvements is based on production and price less expenses for that commodity. Land rents are obtained from a variety of sources, while the capitalization rate is determined by the State Board of Equalization.

Though Prop 13 says that taxable value cannot increase more than 2% from one year to the next, there is no such protection under the Williamson Act. The land and growing improvement values can vary greatly from year-to-year because the components of the formula can change every year. However, any non-living improvements, like a pump, or barn, are assessed under and protected by Proposition 13. If a property is enrolled in the Williamson Act, the taxable value is the lower of the Prop 13 factored base year value or Restricted Value. As shown in the graph which follows, a property enrolled in the Williamson Act during the years 2001 and 2002 has a Restricted Value lower than its Proposition 13 value. Therefore, the Restricted Value would be the taxable value for those two years. In 2003, however, the Proposition 13 value is lower than the Restricted Value. Therefore, the Proposition 13 value would be taxable value for 2003. 


Farmland Security Zone Act

The Farmland Security Zone Act (FSZ) was passed by the Legislature in 1999, to ensure that long-term farmland preservation is a part of public policy.

Under the provisions of the act, the landowner applies for FSZ status, and enters into a contract with the county, which, each year, automatically renews twenty years into the future. The owner of the property promises not to develop the property into alternative non-agricultural uses, in return for a further 35 percent reduction in the taxable value of land and growing improvements.

In the chart below, if a property were newly enrolled in the Farmland Security Zone in 2004, the taxable value would be a 35% reduction in the land and growing improvement values below the Williamson Act value. As is the case under the Williamson Act, non-living improvements are assessed and protected under the provisions of Proposition 13. For the year 2005, however, since the Williamson Act Restricted Value is higher than Prop 13, the Prop 13 factored base year value is the basis for the reduction. The taxable value of land and trees would be a 35% reduction below the Prop 13 value.

In each succeeding year until 2008, the Restricted Value calculation of the Williamson Act would be the basis for the 35% reduction.


Can I build a residence or other structure on my Williamson Act or FSZ parcel?

The passage of AB 1492 in 2003 further defines a “material breach” of contract relating to structures on restricted properties, and establishes provisions for substantial fines for such breaches. To avoid a material breach new buildings must be directly related to a commercial agricultural operation. For further information please see the links to the State Department Of Conservation’s web site below.

Where Do I Apply?

In Madera County, applications for the Williamson Act and the Farmland Security Zone can be obtained from the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors. Complete instructions are included in the packet provided. If you need further information, please contact our Agricultural Appraisal Division.

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Contact the Assessor

200 W. 4th Street
Madera, CA 93637
Fax: (559)675-7654
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Office Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm

Assessor's Department Staff Spotlight

Jacquelyn Nieves - Assessor’s Office Staff

J. SPOTLIGHT_20141009_140906 How long have you worked for the County? 7 1/2 years
What do you like most about your job? Serving the community and working with great people.
Why did you decide to work for the County? I saw an awesome opportunity for learning, growth and advancement.
What is your most memorable accomplishment during your County career? Becoming a valued employee and being entrusted with a wide variety of responsibilities.
When I'm not at work you can find me...Engrossed in some art project, cooking, sewing, and doing community work with my congregation.
What was your first job?  I was a waitress in a Chinese restaurant in Los Angeles.
What is your favorite food? Always chocolate!
What is your favorite kind of music? My husband and I DJ'd for a few years, so I love variety - especially good dance music in-the-mix!
What is your favorite sports team? I'm more into art than sports, but I enjoy watching a good game with great friends.
If you were to travel anywhere in the world for a dream vacation, where would it be? To Uruguay, South America with my husband to see where he grew up and meet his family.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Happily retired, close to my parents and family in Arizona.

General County Contact

General County Contact
200 W. 4th Street
Madera, CA 93637
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Use this number to get general information about the County or County departments.  

For non-emergency information or service, dial 311