The Box Butte County Board of Commissioners acting as the Board of Equalization heard a total of 74 tax protests this year during the two days and evenings of protest hearings.
“This is the lowest number of tax protests we have had in a long time,” said County Clerk Judy Messersmith.
Just to clarify, the protest process is for valuations only. Taxes cannot be protested because of all the
taxing entities that make up the tax rate. Taxes are calculated by dividing the assessed value by 100 and multiplying the tax rate.
“The total number of protests filed was 74,” County Assessor Michelle Robinson said. “It is a low count but in 2017 there were 69 filed which is the lowest number since Judy and I have worked for the county.”
“Assessment actions taken for 2020 valuations were: Hemingford residential using 2015 effective age and removing the location depreciation; applying the new LCG chart, for ag land, provided by the Department of Revenue in response to LB372; reducing some land values based on land use in two ag market areas; updating all parcels with feedlot acres; and other value changes were due to building permit information or discovery.”
The Board of Equalization and Robinson hear the statements from landowners during the protest hearings. Any evidence presented during that time was taken into consideration and Robinson made her final recommendations. On Monday afternoon the BOE passed motions to either agree with the Assessor and lower the evaluation or make no changes at this time.
There were a few cases where the tax value increased because of the information presented during the protests, one case where the status of a finished basement was removed and thus lowering the value, and several businesses that the Board ruled lower than the Assessor recommended due to the pending TERC cases.
“The process went smoothly as always,” Robinson added, “I would like to add that if anyone has questions regarding the assessment process to please call my office at 308-762-6100. We are happy to answer questions and clarify misconceptions. Reminder: the assessed value of residential and commercial properties need to be 92-100% of market value whereas Ag land is to be 69-75% of market value.”
Earlier during the meeting the Board, sitting as the Board of Equalization, met with Robinson and County Attorney Terry Curtiss regarding the pending TERC appeals.
“I met with my legal counsel on July 9th to go over the TERC appeals,” Robinson said. “I just received an email from Travis (Rodak) on what he proposes.”
In September of last year, Robinson filed an appeal with the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) in Lincoln concerning nine commercial property valuation reductions granted by the Box Butte County Board acting in its role as the Box Butte County Board of Equalization.
The board voted 3-0 to not follow Robinson’s recommendation to make no changes to the value of the taxes of the nine commercial properties protested during the tax protest hearings held in July of this year. Out of the 202 protests filed the Board voted to lower 119, raise one and make no changes to the other 82.
“You’re asking the Board to go back to your value is that correct?” asked Curtiss.
“The Assessor’s value, yes,” Robinson said.
“Are any of these figures that are being proposed what the board of equalization came up with?” asked Curtiss.
“I suggest you table this, I’m just asking for clarification so you (the Board) know what you’re looking at,” Curtiss noted.
He added, “I will be notifying the TERC because Travis agrees that we don’t want a single commission meeting.”
The agenda item was tabled until the August 5th meeting.
During Road Superintendent Barb Keegan’s road and equipment report bids were opened and read for an aggregate hauling bid.
A total of six bids were opened and read. Keegan excused herself from the meeting to calculate the numbers and make a spreadsheet for the Board.
The project description read: Croell, Streeter Pit, Buffalo Gap South Dakota – 6,054 ton between 1300 and 1100 CR 70 and 400 ton to 216 Box Butte Ave. Hemingford. With the work to be completed by October 31, 2020. Bid sheets were sent to nine vendors.
The six that were received were from Daren Berg (Edgemont) - $14.56, K4 Trucking II, Inc. (Gering) - $16.80, MCT Trucking (Hemingford) - $16.00, NSG (Gothenburg) - $18.85, Phillips F&T (Hemingford) - $18.00 and V&T Trucking (Alliance) - $21.00.
Keegan read a letter that was included with the bid from Phillips F&T to the Board. The letter stated that the bid was being submitted in cooperation of Phillips F&T Inc., Roes Farms Trucking, Troy Turek Trucking, Horstman Trucking all of Hemingford, NE. Noting that ALL are Box Butte County residents and tax payers.
“We thank you for the opportunity to bid on your aggregate hauling and hope you can see the importance of keeping your bid choice local,” Keegan stated. Adding that the letter was not signed.
Chairman Mike McGinnis asked a number of questions regarding the hauling project. Commissioner Doug Hashman noted that he was staying out of the discussion.
“I’m amazed at 14.58,” said McGinnis. “That’s a very competitive price.”
“I can tell you that I did not anticipate that low of a number,” said Keegan.
McGinnis moved to approve the bid from Berg.
“I know that’s a low bid but gosh I hate to see our money going out of state,” said Commissioner Susan Lore.
“The difference about buys you a mile of rock,” Hashman noted. “And we argued over 3 cents last time.”
The Board approved the bid from Berg.
The Board and Keegan also continued their discussion about the traffic speed count on CR70.
Curtiss said, “Coming in hot into town would be what the Village would be concerned about… I’m going to ask that they boost their law enforcement.”