Yellow cards notifying people of property tax valuations increases recently were found in the mail boxes of many Scotts Bluff County residents.
Though its not yet known how many people will file protests, its a certainty that some property owners in the county will and the Scotts Bluff County Assessor’s Office is readying for the process.
On average, 500 protests are filed annually, Scotts Bluff County Assessor Angela Dillman told the Star-Herald, Not all of those persons filing appear before Scotts Bluff County Commissioners, acting as the Board of Equalization, to make their cases for lowered valuations.
With increases in a number of residential and commercial areas throughout the county, protest filings are all but a certainty in some areas.
The state of Nebraska requires county’s to set valuations at 100% of market values, though the state’s Tax and Equalization Review Committee allows a range of 92-100% to still be in compliance. In Scotts Bluff County, valuations are set using mass appraisal techniques, which applies a costing index to find the replacement cost for new construction, less depreciation, plus the land valuation. Sales from the previous three years are reviewed every year to determine market trends for areas in Scotts Bluff County.
That means your assessed value on your home or property may go up as the market sees changes and adjustments are made to keep valuations updated.
With the valuation adjustments this year, Scotts Bluff County will be at 92% on the commercial level and residential will be at 93%.
In Mitchell, Gering and Terrytown, adjustments were made in commercial properties. Mitchell experienced a 5% increase in commercial properties and multiplex apartment buildings in Gering saw a 10% increase in valuations.
Much of the county saw adjustments in residential properties. Terrytown experienced the highest increase, with a 23% increase. Morrill came close behind with a 12% increase. Rural subdivisions, which are areas like Cornett Heights and the subdivision around the Scotts Bluff Country Club, and rural acreages, not used for farming purposes, saw 9% and 10% increases, respectively. In Scottsbluff, residential properties saw an increase of 4%, Gering had an increase of 5% and Mitchell had an increase of 6%.
Throughout the county, commercial and residential properties that had construction improvements made in the last year also received valuation increases.
Ag land values in Scotts Bluff County did not see an increase, with the county being at a median level of 71%. Ag land valuations need to be within a 69% to 75% range,
For those looking to protest their properties, there are some things that Dillman and commissioners have noted at recent meetings that people need to remember:
— Deadlines to file protests have been set for Wednesday, June 30. Protest filings must be submitted by 4:30 p.m., the close of the county’s business day.
Protest forms must be filed, either in person at the Scotts Bluff County Clerk’s Office or they can be emailed to the Scotts Bluff County Clerk’s Office. Even emailed forms must be submitted by the deadline. Forms are available at the clerk’s office or on the Scotts Bluff County website. The form is available under the “Assessor” section or here: www.scottsbluffcounty.org/assessor/assessor.html
— Persons filing protests have the burden of proof in presenting their argument for a decreased valuation. According to information provided by the county, items that may be considered include a certified appraisal, proof of recent sale of the property and comparisons to similar properties. Comparisons are required to be filed with your protest form.
Commissioner Ken Meyer recently addressed concerns about this issue in a June 2 commissioners meeting:
“One of the things that we are asking protesters to do is to make sure they’ve got all their comparables at the time they file the protest and get it to the assessor’s office” he said. “We spend a lot of ... downtime waiting for that to happen (during protests).”
There will be people who don’t understand the proper procedures for filing a protest, he said, and officials will have to work through that. “But when folks show up here and they say, ‘Well, I don’t have any comparables, I just think it’s too high. We need more than that, because that puts all the decision back on us to try to figure out, is it too high, is it not, what information do we have, what information do we not have. ... So then it’s up to us to come up with something.”
— Persons with multiple parcels need to file on a separate form. Each property will also be given 15 minutes to state their case. County Clerk Kelly Sides and Dillman said efforts will be made to schedule persons with multiple parcels with coinciding times to alleviate impacts on schedules.
— Scotts Bluff County Commissioners have already scheduled protest hearings, which are slated to begin on July 14. Persons protesting their valuations will be given a time and date for presentation of their protest. In some cases, protests may be resolved before a protest hearing, but the filing will still be submitted to the county board during protest hearings.