Lancaster County property owners unhappy with the county's valuation of their home, business or land can formally challenge it beginning Saturday.
The County Assessor's Office on Friday will mail out nearly 100,000 letters notifying property owners of a change in their valuation from 2018 to 2019.
Valuations finalized in March were about 10% higher for homes, while ag land values dropped on average by 7.5% and commercial property valuations remained the same, according to the assessor's office.
The valuations could mean higher property taxes for homeowners should taxing authorities such as Lincoln Public Schools, the city of Lincoln and Lancaster County keep their tax rates for 2020 unchanged.
Driving the double-digit increase in home valuations is the hot housing market, Assessor Rob Ogden said.
"It's a seller's market," Ogden said.
Ogden said people weighing whether to protest a valuation they don't like should ask themselves if they could sell the property for that amount.
If they believe they can't and have supporting evidence, such as an appraisal from a recent refinancing, that will help a protest referee make a decision.
But general unhappiness about a higher valuation, for example, isn't likely on its own to sway the third-party referee, Ogden said.
Valuations are the result of comparing a property to the sales of similar properties in the area.
"Not everybody moves the same because the market doesn't move the same," Chief Administrative Deputy Scott Gaines of the assessor's office said.
There is no fee to file a protest with the County Clerk's Office.
All protests must be postmarked or received by the office at 555 S. 10th St. by July 1, and online filing begins Saturday.
The protests must include the reason for the protest, a legal description of the property, signature and the date.
Protesting property owners filing online can attach supporting documents, or they can be faxed, mailed or hand-delivered to the office.
A referee will weigh the assessor's report against the evidence backing the protest before making a recommendation to the Lancaster County Board, which sits as the County Board of Equalization.
The board will make a final value determination by Aug. 10.
If a property owner is still unsatisfied with the valuation, they can appeal to the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Review Commission.
If the assessor's valuations overall are not set close enough to market value, that same commission can order across-the-board property value changes.
Nebraska's property tax administrator, Ruth Swanson, concluded in an April 9 report that Lancaster County's assessments were acceptably close to market values.
What's coming from your wallet
The Lancaster County Agricultural Society operates the fair and maintains the event center property.
Tax rate: $0.001391 per $100 of valuation
Ag Society JPA
Property tax dollars are being used to pay off the remaining $8 million in bonds for construction of the Lancaster Event Center. The event center hosts a variety of events, including horse shows.
Tax rate: $0.002753 per $100 of valuation.
City of Lincoln
The City of Lincoln funds police and fire protection, libraries, health, Public Works (infrastructure) and numerous other programs.
Tax rate: $0.281820 per $100 of taxable valuation
Educational Service Unit 18 is affiliated with Lincoln Public Schools and funds media services, teacher training, web access, testing, the Pathfinder program for students awaiting court decisions and Heritage School for fourth-graders.
Tax rate: $0.015 per $100 of taxable valuation.
Jail JPA city and jail JPA county
Property tax revenue is being used to pay off the $65 million bond issued to build the jail at Southwest 40th and West O streets. Two joint public agencies are involved, because voters did not approve bonds to do it in one package. Both the city and the county have jail JPAs.
Jail JPA county tax rate: $0.007498 per $100 valuation
Jail JPA city tax rate: $0.010967 per $100 in valuation
Lancaster County offers the county court, clerk's office, jail operations, the county attorney and many other services.
Tax rate: $0.266576 per $100 valuation
Lincoln Public Schools educates nearly 42,000 students.
Tax rate: $1.04 per $100 of taxable value
Lower Platte South NRD
The Lower Platte South Natural Resources District operates three trails, wetlands, flood-control dams, lakes and wildlife management areas, well permits and more.
Tax rate: $0.031212 per $100 of taxable valuation
Public Building Commission
The Public Building Commission uses property taxes to pay off bonds used to build some of the block-long building that houses the center of Lincoln and Lancaster County government on 10th Street. The commission also operates various other public buildings owned by the city and county.
Tax rate: $0.017 per $100 of valuation
Railroad Safety Transportation District
The Railroad Transportation Safety District uses property tax money to establish quiet zones where trains can't blow their horns and safer train crossings.
Tax rate: $0.022217 per $100 of valuation
Southeast Community College has campuses in Lincoln, Beatrice and Milford and learning centers in Nebraska City, Falls City, Hebron, Plattsmouth, Wahoo and York.
Tax rate: $0.0907 per $100 of taxable valuation
Police and fire pensions
Taxpayers are responsible for paying defined-benefit pension plans even if investments on the pension funds don't make enough money. The city broke out the property tax amount for the police and fire pensions separately for the first time last year in order to be more transparent, said Brandon Kauffman, city finance director.
Tax rate: $0.03466 per $100 taxable value
LPS 1999 bond
The bonds voters approved in 1999 paid for the construction of Lincoln's newest high schools, Southwest and North Star. Taxpayers are still paying for building these high schools, for which $90 million in bonds were issued.
Tax rate: $0.027359 per $100 of taxable value
2006 LPS bond
Former LPS superintendent Susan Gourley (right), shown with board members Kathy Danek and Barb Baier watching election results, helped lead approval of a $250 million Lincoln Public Schools bond issue in 2006 that resulted in new schools and many renovations to existing schools.
Tax rate: $0.080456 per $100 valuation
2014 LPS bond
Moore Middle School and the Career Academy were some of the many projects included in the 2014 bond issue for $153 million for Lincoln Public Schools.
Tax rate: $0.053369 per $100 valuation
LPS Capital Purpose Fund
The Qualified Capital Purpose Undertaking Fund is used to pay down the debt from Lincoln Public Schools' limited tax bond issues used for air quality, asbestos/mold abatement and prevention, elimination of accessibility barriers and life safety code projects.
Tax rate: $0.022959 per $100 taxable value
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