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County valuations sent out: Protest forms due June 30
June 12, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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State statute requires change of valuation notices to be sent to county landowners on or before June 30 – and the change was a surprise to some Scotts Bluff County residents.

County Assessor Amy Ramos said her office tries to keep properties valued at 100 percent of market value. However, commercial and residential property is allowed an acceptable range of 92 to 100 percent.

“The only changes we did for 2014 were across the board percentage increase for properties that weren’t within the acceptable range,” Ramos said. “We had to do a percent increase to get those properties back within the acceptable range.”

There were seven market areas in commercial and 11 areas in residential that received increases. But some of them were substantial. The entire Village of Morrill was highest with a 23 percent increase across the board on residential structures. A portion of east Scottsbluff received a 13 percent valuation increase. Gering was increased by two percent, and the City of Mitchell received a five percent hike.

Ramos said every year uses different sales for measurement, so it’s impossible to predict how much of an adjustment is needed.

As for ag land, all classifications went up in valuation, especially irrigated land. The top classification of irrigated land (4A) increased from $1,250 last year to $1,450 for the current year. For 4D dry land, a valuation of $210 from last year is now $280. And grassland classified 4G went up from $200 last year to $240. Similar increases also happened in all other classifications of ag land.

“There’s a misconception that we need to value land based on production,” Ramos said. “Until state law is changed, ag land values have to be measured by the market, what the land is selling for.”

She added that in the past, people from Colorado and California bought local land for highly inflated prices and driving up valuations. “Quite honestly, a lot of our sales are local buyers and sellers,” she said. “Maybe those out-of-town buyers set a precedent and local people figured that’s what they could get out of their land. But I can’t blame the out-of-towners any more.”

Landowners who want to protest their valuation changes should come into either the County Clerk or County Assessor office and pick up a protest form.

“We’ll do the best we can to help them fill out the firm is needed,” Ramos said. “The form needs to be submitted to the clerk’s office by the June 30 deadline.”

Protest hearings will be heard by the county board will be July 7 – 11. The burden of proof is on the protester as to why the valuation is too high or low, so documentation will be required.
“We’ve had a lot of questions about how we arrived at the new valuations,” Ramos said. “Protests have been running about the same as in past years, but they could pick up as we get closed to the deadline.”
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