UPDATE: As of Wednesday afternoon, the Montana Farm Bureau Federation has been informed that the Montana Supreme Court has accepted the appeal of this lawsuit. Jake Cummins, Executive Vice President of the MFBF, says that they are excited about that, believe it is the right thing to do and plan to follow it all the way through.
The following is a press release from the Montana Farm Bureau Federation:
BOZEMAN – On November 9, 2011, Lucas Ranch, Inc., the Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) and the Montana Taxpayers Association (Montax), appealed the district court’s October 25 denial of their motion for class certification to the Montana Supreme Court. In the Court’s October 25 Order, it essentially determined that the phase-in problems faced by agricultural producers as a result of agriculture land reappraisal must be considered on a case-by-case basis, and refused to certify a class of all agriculture producers. This decision does not determine the substantive issues in the case. “We were extremely disappointed by the district court’s decision barring us from class certification because we contend the incorrect phase-in applies to all property owners who protested the incorrect portion,” says Jake Cummins, MFBF Executive Vice President. “We still believe we have a strong case and the final decision will apply to all agricultural producers similarly situated to the Lucas family. Consequently, our members find it extremely important to continue with the lawsuit.” The groups are now waiting for an order from the Court accepting the appeal.
Echoing Cummins, Montax President Nancy Schlepp said, “While we are disappointed in the denial of class certification by Judge Spalding in Lucas v. DOR, we firmly believe that the merits of the case, regarding incorrect phase-in of agriculture land valuation changes, are solid. We are determined to go forward with the lawsuit and prevail for the hard working producers of Montana.” Schlepp also notes that landowners who feel their property tax was phased-in incorrectly should continue to protest that portion of their taxes. “Despite the fact that some counties have released protested taxes after the initial court decision on class certification, as long as property tax payers continue to protest, they are still eligible for a refund, depending on the appeal and the final decision on the merits of Lucas v. DOR. Upon a favorable decision on Lucas v. DOR, counties will be obligated to refund protested taxes, even if they have been released, considering that the taxpayer has validly protested as outlined in 15-1-402, MCA .”
Source: Montana Farm Bureau Federation
Posted by Haylie Shipp