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Update on Recent State Legislation Affecting the Williamson Act in Yolo County

In recent years, the State has withdrawn its financial support for the Williamson Act by eliminating virtually all subvention payments to participating counties.  In Yolo County, this translates into an annual loss of about $1.3 million—the full amount of subventions previously paid by the State.  Recognizing the impact on affected counties, the Legislature has recently taken steps to provide a partial solution for the elimination of State subventions.

In 2010, Assemblyman Jim Nielsen introduced legislation that served as a foundation of what eventually became Senate Bill 863 (SB 863).  Senator Wolk and Assemblywoman Yamada joined SB 863 as co-authors, and it passed both the Senate and Assembly without a dissenting vote and was signed into law in late 2010.  SB 863 provided for a reduction in the term of Williamson Act contracts (from 10 years to 9), accompanied by an addition to the assessed value of affected properties.  The addition was based on a formula that allowed landowners to retain at least 90% of the tax savings created by participation in the Williamson Act while also replacing a portion of the County’s lost tax revenues.  Altogether, implementation of SB 863 was expected to yield about $500,000 in additional revenues for the County.

The County implemented SB 863 promptly after its adoption.  Among other things, landowners received a notice in mid-December 2010 advising them of the details of SB 863 and, importantly, allowing them to “opt-out” of implementation by filing for non-renewal of their Williamson Act contract(s) by February 15, 2011.  The County received only a handful of non-renewals.

On March 24, 2011, a few weeks after the County had fully implemented SB 863, it was repealed by the Legislature.  Fortunately, the repeal was short lived.  All of the basic provisions of SB 863 were restored by a new bill, AB 1265 (also introduced by Senator Nielsen), which was approved by the Legislature and signed into law in July 2011.  As AB 1265 specifically included an effective date of January 1, 2011, it assured the continuing validity of the County’s prior actions to implement SB 863.

For landowners with land enrolled in the Williamson Act, all of this means that the County will be moving ahead with its implementation of the program that originated in SB 863.  Please consult the Williamson Act Land Value Calculator for the amount of charges added.  Contract holders may also wish to consult a tax specialist.

In the meantime, direct questions about how you might be affected by the SB 863/AB 1265 program to John Young, Yolo County Agricultural Commissioner, (530) 666-8140 or via e-mail: john.young@yolocounty.org.

To view current tax bill information online have your Property Address, Assessment Number or Fee Parcel number ready and click the button below:

Review Tax Bill - WA page

* CLCA (Williamson Act) Questionnaire (Yolo LD 2012)   
CLCA (Williamson Act) forms due 3/1/2012.  To return form by:
Mail - Yolo County Assessor
        Attn: Dave Schwenger
        625 Court St Room 104
        Woodland, CA 95695 
Fax - Attn: Dave Schwenger (530) 666-8213
Email - david.schwenger@yolocounty.org 

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