Property tax bill

Homes dot a development southeast of 27th Street and Yankee Hill Road.

GWYNETH ROBERTS, Journal Star file photo

The property tax rate in Lincoln is going down slightly -- about a penny per $100 in valuation -- based on tax rates expected to be approved by the Lancaster County Board on Tuesday.

So if your assessed property value stayed the same on the county's tax rolls, you will be paying less in taxes -- about $16.50 less on a home valued at $165,000.

But most Lincoln homeowners will be paying more next year in property taxes that pay for local services because of increased home values.

The assessed values for most Lincoln homes went up, an average increase of 10.5 percent, as the county assessor tried to keep assessed values for tax purposes similar to the rising market values, a state requirement.

So, for most homeowners, that penny drop in the tax rate won’t be enough to offset their increase in assessed value.

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Tax rates

In addition, the state property tax credit, intended to take the edge off property taxes, went down slightly for commercial and residential property.

This year, the state split the property tax credit for the first time, giving agricultural land across the state a higher tax credit than residential and commercial property.

For agland, the tax credit rate is $105.56 per $100,000 of taxable valuation. For all other property the tax credit rate is $87.95 per $100,000 of taxable valuation for tax year 2017.

The result will mean higher property taxes for most Lincoln homeowners. 

The owner of an average home in 2016 -- valued at $165,000 -- paid $3,212.86 in property taxes this year, after taking into account the state tax credit.

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Average bill

Next year the owner of an average home -- now $182,400 -- will be paying $3,533.37 in taxes, an increase of $320.

The experience of individual property owners will differ, depending on how much their assessed value went up or down. 

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Several conservative political groups, including the Lincoln Independent Business Association, encouraged local governmental units to reduce their tax rates substantially and avoid taking advantage of what they called the "windfall," the increase in total property values across the city and county.

But none of the governments reduced their tax rate by enough to offset the 8.7 percent average increase in total valuation countywide.

A coalition of agriculture and business leaders unsuccessfully encouraged Southeast Community College to reduce its planed 20.6 percent increase in the tax rate.

All three of the major governments reduced their tax rates: the school district (down .06 percent), the city (down 5.15 percent) and the county (down 3.17 percent).

Lincoln raised its property tax rate in 2016 by about a cent, but the new 2017 tax rate is still slightly less than the 2015 rate.

Local governments that provide services ranging from city streets, parks and police to public schools and flood control rely on the property tax for much of their funding.

The tax rate for major local governments are set by boards of elected officials -- the school board for the Lincoln Public Schools; the City Council and mayor for Lincoln; the county commissioners for Lancaster County.

Rates for some jurisdictions are set by boards made up of elected officials and sometimes private citizens. These include the Public Building Commission, the Railroad Transportation Safety District and the Lancaster County Correctional JPA, which is paying off the bonds for the new jail.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNancyHicks.

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Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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