Our legislature also provided property tax reductions for land used to enhance the public use of open space. If privately owned land is made accessible to the public for recreational purposes, to preserve access to public land, or to view scenic vistas, it may be valued at its current use value rather than its “highest and best use” fair market value.
In the Open Space Program the land is assigned a “public benefit rating”. The rating is used to determine the percentage of the highest and best use fair market value that will be taxable. The taxing district in which the land resides organizes the public benefit rating board. For instance, land in the City of Spokane is rated by the city’s public benefit rating board. The county board rates the benefit of land in the county.
Farm and Agriculture Conservation Program
A subset of the Open Space Program is the Farm and Agricultural Conservation Land Program. It is a special program where property that was once in one of the other Current Use Programs, but no longer meets the requirements of the program or is land that qualified to be in a Current Use Program but for some reason wasn’t, can continue to receive or begin to receive current use tax rates if there is a likelihood that the property will eventually return to farm and agricultural use in the future. To place land into this program requires public benefit rating board approval.