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It’s been a nice summer, but now fall is upon us and the temperatures are dropping. Taxes however, rarely seem to follow suit.
The citizens of central and West Omaha were given a stark reminder of this fact of life back in April, when their property valuations went up by 7%.
To be fair, property values were lowered by 8% in most of Northeast Omaha. But people in Omaha still understandably want an explanation as to why this happened.
On the surface the reason for the increase seems relatively simple. The county received funding requests from its subdivisions and set its levy to cover expenses. With the levy set, they divided the cost equally between all property owners.
That’s a simple enough explanation of how the tax rate was set, but that still leaves the increase in property value which then translated into higher property taxes for residents.
The raises in property value were a result of variations between the area’s assessment sales ratio as compiled by the state, and the assessment sales ratio the state mandates an area must fall into by statute. Nebraska law requires residential, industrial and commercial valuations to be within 92% to 100% of the market value. The Tax Equalization & Review Commission (TERC), found that the West Omaha properties in question were at 89% of market value and so mandated a 7% raise in property valuations by the county.
In Nebraska, the county is responsible for any increase or decrease in the levy which then dictates what the tax rate is. County board members are elected officials, so citizens who feel that the levy is unreasonable or unfair have the right to vote them out.
The county is legally obligated to inform property owners via a card in the mail whenever property taxes change. If citizens effected by a tax increase feel the increase is onerous or unfair, they have the right to appeal (follow the link for instructions on the appeals process.)
I introduced an interim study, LR555, to clarify the process and procedures used in such appeals before TERC. I will post an update once the study is complete.