Bulk of valuation protests deal with CREP ground
Chase County Clerk Debbie Clark said her office received the highest number of valuation protests than any other year of her tenure.
All told, her office received a total of 84 protests of the 2017 property valuations set by Assessor Dotty Bartels.
Of those, 56 protests dealt with the valuation Bartels placed on land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).
For the 2017 tax year, Bartels set the value at $3,240 per acre. The County Board of Equalization, comprised of the three county commissioners, adjusted the value up $1 to $3,241.
In 2015, Duane Dinnel of rural Wauneta challenged the values on CREP land set by Bartels.
That dispute went to the Nebraska Tax Equalization Review Commission (TERC) and wasn’t settled until late January 2017.
In their ruling, they set the value of CREP acres in Chase County at $3,330 based on previous sales data dating back as much as four years.
In Chase County, only about 5,200 of the county’s 550,000 acres are enrolled in CREP and not a lot of sales occur in the property class.
Dinnel and other owners of CREP acres had protested the 2016 CREP valuations to TERC, as well.
In April, after TERC’s ruling earlier this year, the commissioners settled with nearly all of the 2016 complainants with a value of $3,289 per acre.
Since the TERC ruling, Bartels said there’s only been two other sales of CREP ground.
One parcel was less than the 40 acres recommended by the state and thus did not represent a “typical” sale.
When figuring values for 2017, Bartels did not use that sale price, which was $4,503 per acre.
On the other sale, the parcel included CREP acres and Conservation Reserve Program acres and sold for $4,698 per acre.
Using four of the sales that TERC used in the 2015 ruling, along with the other recent sale, Bartels said the median price was represented by the $4,698 per acre sale.
In Nebraska, ag land is valued, for property tax purposes, between 69 to 75 percent of actual value.
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