Property Assessments

Property Assessments

Property AssessmentsHere’s a followup up on a blog post we made in May of 2016 titled Douglas County Must Raise Property Valuations.  We note this article found in the Omaha World-Herald about property assessments:

“Three Douglas County Board members plan to formally ask County Assessor Diane Battiato to set 2017 property valuations so nobody’s house valuation goes up more than 3 percent.”

The board can’t tell the assessor how to set valuations. Going along with this resolution could put the county at odds with the State of Nebraska. The county could negotiate with state tax equalization officials to spread increases out over some number of years,  instead of slamming some taxpayers with huge increases this year.

“By law, we don’t have the authority over another elected official,” County Board Chair Mary Ann Borgeson said. “We can encourage, strongly encourage, but it’s up to her whether to work with us on it or not.”

The preliminary property assessments are giving to property owners sticker shock, but they are largely correct. A rising real estate market is pushing values higher. Many properties haven’t been appraised for many years.

The assessor is required by Nebraska law to set valuations at 92 to 100 percent of market value. If she fails to do so, the state could order across-the-board increases, as it did in 2016.

In the earlier post, we gave you instructions how you can appeal your tax assessment through the appeal process. However, because real estate prices have increased so much in parts of Nebraska, it seems the best you can do is ameliorate the increase. In this example,   “…the preliminary valuation for 2017 was about $488,000 — nearly 2½ times the valuation in 2016, with most of the increase based on land value.  An appeal got the assessment reduced to $387,000. That still means the property increased almost $200,000 in one year.

The assessment rules mean a lot more revenue for the state to spend on needed priorities and favorite projects. The rules allow the state to grow,  and to provide more services to more and more people. You may not agree with where money is spent and you may not agree with how the state collects money. What you may not also agree with is the power of the state to seize property.

Many states like California and Oregon sought solutions in property tax limitations. They made it a part of the Constitution that property assessments could not increase more than 3 to 5% per year from a fixed base. To increase property taxes more than 3 to 5%, those states either required bond measures to raise additional money or adjusted the assessment higher to market value when a house sold.

Oregon and California homeowners still complain about their property taxes, but they voted for the extras on their bill. They voted for school bond measures, and money for parks, libraries, and street improvements. At least the power was in the majorities hands rather than in the bureaucrats’ hands.

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