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County receives valuation hike
June 08, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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If you own property in Scotts Bluff County, you may have recently received a yellow card in the mail explaining by how much your property value changed. On residential property, the change was common for this year.

“The valuation was 91 percent overall for all residential properties,” said County Assessor Amy Ramos. “Per state statute, I have to be at 100 percent, but they give me a minimum of 92 percent. Last year, Gering was at 90.45 percent and we had to get them in compliance.”

With the valuation hikes across residential value groupings, the overall valuation for the county is now at 93 percent.

“I’m still staying at the low end of what required by statute,” Ramos said. “Some values went up quite a bit but I’m still at the low end of what’s legal.”

She added that most residential properties in the county received an increase of between five and 10 percent. The one exception as in Gering’s golf course area, which was severely undervalued. Homes that were valued at $200,000 were selling for $300,000. Those areas got a hefty valuation increase.

The smaller towns of McGrew, Melbeta, Henry and Lyman were also undervalued at about 77 percent. Those values were raised to come up with an average of 94 percent.

“If anyone is unhappy with their valuation, the first step is to come into our office,” Ramos said. “We’ll be happy to explain what happened in their market area and go over their property to assure there are no calculation errors.”

Ramos said that even if her office agrees a property’s valuation needs to be adjusted, they can’t make any changes until a protest is filed with the county before June 30. Protests hearings before the county board are scheduled for July 11 for residential properties and July 12 for commercial properties.

“When filing a protest, owners of farm properties need to get Farm Service Agency information, the map and a Form 578,” Ramos said. “All that information is privacy protected so the owners will need to bring that with them.”

She said that irrigated land is valued higher than grassland or dryland. However, irrigated land is valued the same whether the water comes from a pivot, a well, or a ditch.

Most of the valuation increases on ag land were between two and five percent, except the lowest classification of grassland, which received a 13 percent hike.

“Ag land hasn’t gone up as much as in past years, but it did go up,” Ramos said. “The only changes we had in commercial were in Mitchell, where the valuation was at 83 percent. That was raised to 92 percent.”

Ramos also addressed the misconception that a higher valuation automatically means a higher property tax bill at the end of the year.

“My office isn’t allowed to even consider what the property taxes will be,” said. “Taxes are set in September by the levying entities. In theory, of your value goes up, your levy should stay the same. If the levy goes up, it’s because that entity is asking for more money than they did the year before.”

Levying entities include the schools, municipalities, county, Western Nebraska Community College, Educational Service Unit 13, Residential and Sanitary Improvement Districts, Western Nebraska Regional Airport and the Natural Resources District.

“If people want to protest their taxes, they need to attend the budget hearings of these groups,” Ramos said. “They need to tell the levying entities they’re unhappy with their taxes and the levy should remain the same or be lowered. My office has no control over taxes.”

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