I am sure that the shock of the new property tax bill has not gone unnoticed in your household this past holiday season.

Thanks to the county assessors for getting those in our hands before the warmth of visiting family and friends had cooled because of the new year’s revelation that we are just that much poorer this year.

My ranch is 4,240 acres, much smaller than some but larger than others, so I feel like I am right in the middle of the problem.

Let me illustrate. According to the University of Nebraska-Extension, the stocking rate for our type of sandhills range is somewhere in the neighborhood of 18-20 acres/head/year.

So even with my wet meadows. I have a 250-300 cow ranch, which is close to this estimate. If it weren’t for pasture that I lease and hay that I put up on shares, I would not be able to run the operation that I do. I just wouldn’t have the land for it.

My 250-300 cow ranch now has a property tax bill of more than $22,000. So my tax per cow is between $73 and $88 dollars. This is an increase of $15-18 per head compared to last year.

Now, I don’t presume to know how you all figure this, but on my operation of 500-600 calves marketed each year, I try to make $50/head for my family, or $25,000-$30,000/year. I am not trying to get wealthy, but I am trying to provide for a family and their needs. So with $750-$850 calves, margins are pretty tight.

The loss of $15-$18 dollars per head certainly makes a huge difference. Just for you that might struggle with the math, I now make $32-$35 per head times 500-600 marketed calves or $16,000-$21,000/year. That is, of course, if I can keep all my other costs in line.

I suppose that the high school needed a new touring bus more that my kids needed new shoes and Christmas presents next year anyway.

In November, you will all get to vote on county government offices. Let me state clearly, nobody who is now serving deserves another day in office. If they cannot or will not live within reasonable spending limits, we have to replace them with people who will.

By Clint W. Pettit, Tyron