Runyan raises donkeys for a tax break

The jokes just write themselves with this one as Congressional candidate to be Jon Runyan is also a farmer apparently:

Former Philadelphia Eagle Jon Runyan is getting a break on his property taxes for his lavish Mount Laurel homestead – thanks in part to his four donkeys.

Runyan, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House, paid $57,000 in taxes last year on five of his acres, which contain his home.

But on most of his property – 20 acres – he paid $468 in taxes, according to township records.

On his application for a farmland assessment in July, Runyan said he uses five acres as grazing land for his donkeys and 15 for timber, harvesting seven cords of firewood that he sold for $810.

You may remember the farmland assessment issue rearing its head in such races as Ellen Karcher v. Jen Beck and most recently Scott Garrett v. Dennis Shulman. As Babs pointed out in this Ken Bank diary, the GOP was relentless against Karcher on the issue. Up until recently Runyan wasn’t fulfilling his dream of raising donkeys, but was motivated by the potential of losing that tax break:

Runyan didn’t always have the four donkeys. Last January, the township assessor wrote to Runyan that one donkey wasn’t enough to justify the tax break.

“Although your application was approved for 2009, this acreage will not qualify in the future if you do not have enough animals to justify the five acres,” the letter said.

A year later, Runyan reported having four donkeys grazing on five acres, and kept his tax break.

Russell said Runyan had long planned to breed the donkeys but wasn’t ready to do that just yet.

I guess the potential increase in taxes provided the motivation to finally fulfill those plans. At 1.25 acres per donkey, they have more land than most NJ residents. I wonder what the big elephant in Ocean County George Gilmore thought over his morning coffee learning about Runyan and his affinity for donkeys.

Comments (6)

  1. ken bank

    An appropriate title for a “Gentleman Farmer”.

    If they ever do a remake of John Ford’s “The Quiet Man” he’d be perfect for the role of “Squire” Danaher.

  2. Jersey Shore John

    Horton, the Hypocrite in “Runyan Hee-Haws a Who.”

  3. Thurman Hart

    as to whether his donkey breeding is a hobby or a business.  If it is a business; then there should be some records showing either a profit or a loss.  If it’s a hobby; then it probably shouldn’t qualify for an exemption.

    I guess it is the fact that he started with ONE donkey that makes me wonder.  Generally speaking, you don’t start out breeding donkeys (or other livestock) with a male.  This is because you can get the necessary component (sperm) from someone who owns a male donkey; but it is exceptionally difficult to borrow the necessary component from someone who owns a female donkey (uterus and ovaries).

    Now, it IS possible to make money off a male donkey in the reproduction biz – but it involves either sending the jack out for stud, which most people don’t like to do because it risks injury, or you have to…let’s say “collect” the sperm, freeze it, store it, and then send it out to recipients.  And, honestly, it isn’t your run of the mill jack that you can make money off of by selling their sperm.  

    If he was pimping out his jack; then there should be some records for collection fees, freezing and storage fees, and records of payment.  Or at least stud fees that were received.

    If he had a jenny; then there should be records of stud fees paid, at least, if not vet fees paid for AI procedures.  Now, a jenny carries a foal for about twelve months, so if this has gone on for more than a year or two, there should be record of a foal being born.  About a year after the birth, you can look at selling the foal, which should be recorded somewhere.

    If he has more than one jack, he isn’t really trying to breed them anyway.  

    Beyond that, donkeys are easy keepers – meaning they require relatively little food.  Five acres seems like quite a bit of space for only four donkeys.  I suppose it could be argued that he plans to have eight donkeys, if they are all female and have babies at the same time.  That would seem like a better ratio.

    At any rate, unless he’s registered with his breed association, I wouldn’t consider him a serious breeder.  There isn’t much of a market for donkeys, and even less for donkeys that aren’t registered (though donkeys have an open registry, so it doesn’t preclude serious breeding, just makes it less likely).


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