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Biggest commodity

Some were surprised last week when state officials announced an expansion at Dassault Falcon’s jet completion facility in Little Rock. They said aircraft and related products had become the state’s number one export. Number one? Here in the land of rice, cotton, soybeans and chicken?

It turns out the thinking is that agriculture comprises several commodity groups. But aeronautics sales altogether have risen dramatically, and every plane is an expensive item. They were up 35 percent in 2004, 65 percent in 2005 and 23 percent in 2006, to a value of slightly more than $1 billion.

High praise

Photographer John McDermott, who did some of his earliest work for the Arkansas Times and who’s made a home for the last decade in Thailand, drew high praise in a recent New York Times Travel section for his photography of Angkor Wat, the ancient Cambodian temple. McDermott was described as the “Ansel Adams of Angkor” for his long years of work viewing the site in different light and perspectives. See his work at asiaphotos.net.

Tax warning

Pulaski County tax assessors have been sending a warning out to the real estate community about a change in property tax law, Act 2284 of 2007, that could surprise some people.

Under old law, when property was sold, the new owner’s property tax was limited to an assessment 5 percent higher than the old assessment. This carried over to assessments the circuit-breaker provision in the Constitution intended to limit the impact of property reappraisals to 5 percent tax increases per year. Applying that cap to transfers made it difficult for taxing authorities to capture the full value of real estate, particularly in such fast-growing areas as Northwest Arkansas.

No more. Now property must be assessed at market value when property is sold. A reappraisal of all property still will limit new appraisals to a 5 percent increase for existing owners of property, so there won’t be a sudden sticker shock for all taxpayers.

The new rule is in effect. It’s a factor to consider in estimating the property tax on property being considered for purchase. As a practical matter, this market-based assessment on property sales won’t appear on tax bills until March 2008.

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