The taxable valuation of property was a hot topic at the Lincoln County Commissioner’s meeting Monday, as Maxwell resident Shirley Hubbard presented complaints.She handed the commissioner’s copies of the valuations.
“I would like to know if you recognize these documents,” she said. “I would assume you do, since you signed them. I have been here before on this matter—this is not the first time, we did this before a few years ago to get the value back to where it belongs and now I am still at it, because this isn’t right.”
The documents compared the county assessor and the referee’s recommendations.
She noted that the referee recommended lowering her valuation.
“And when I came to the board before, you said you were very surprised at what the referee had recommended,” Hubbard said.
“We only do about 700 of them,” Commissioner Duane Deterding said. “So, I don’t remember every one of them.”
Hubbard wanted to know how the board decided on her valuation.
“Oh my, we would have to go back through and restudy it, Shirley, to honestly give a legitimate answer. That would be a little hard to do here,” Commissioner Bill Henry said.
“It would have to be in the proper setting before the board of equalization,” Commissioner Joe Hewgley said. “But you are welcome to say anything you want to us, within reason, and you can probably call us anything you want to, within reason, but there is really nothing right now that we can do. It is just a time for you to give us your information.”
Hubbard read the decision from the document:
“After testimony by the assessor and referee, I move to lower the valuation to the referee’s recommendations.”
“The assessor’s recommendation is higher; the referee’s is lower. So how did you get that?” she asked.
Deputy County Attorney Joe Wright spoke up.
“This is not a question-and-answer session. If you want to express your concerns, just go for it, but as far as the case, it is tried and is over and we are moving on.”
“You’re moving on, I am not,” Hubbard replied.
“The case is over, if you want to express concerns and why you are upset and so forth, go ahead and do it, but they don’t have to answer any of your questions,” Wright said.
Hubbard said she had wanted to talk to the commissioners rather than have a referee. But “they” would not let her.
“Stop right there. Who told you that?” Hewgley asked.
“Someone in the assessor’s office,” Hubbard said.
Hewgley asked County Assessor Julie Stenger to explain what happened. She said that the assessor’s office does not schedule those type of meetings.
Hubbard said she did not know who to talk to.
“We tell every taxpayer when they file their protest, that it is all done at the clerk’s office,” Stenger said.
After more discussion, Hewgley learned that this protest was about last year’s valuation, rather than this year’s.
Even so, Hubbard continued to question why her valuation was not lowered.
Stenger gave her an explanation.
“If you look, we did lower it, not to the referee’s, but it was lower than what it was originally,” Stenger said.
“For the future, maybe you now understand what you need to do,” Wright said. “That is why I kept stopping you talking about the past. As far as regards to the future, make sure there is an understanding that you want to be in front of the board.”
“I won’t forget that,” Hubbard said.
“That’s all you can do. What’s past is past. Next time through, you will understand what you need to do, for now you just have to pay what the clerk says,” Wright said.
“I know that. I was there,” she said. “So, in the meantime, I have to pay what it says?”
“Why would you ask that question if you know it and said you were there?” Hewgley asked.
Hubbard paused, “Maybe because I am just upset.”
“I accept that and appreciate that,” Hewgley said.
“I know I won’t get an answer about how you came to your conclusions, so I will be back next year. Because this is not right,” Hubbard said.
The commissioners said they would welcome her back.
In other business, the commissioners looked over the preliminary Lincoln County 2017-18 budget, presented by Certified Public Accountant Susan Maline.
The preliminary budget calls for $12,626,000 in property taxes, which is slightly less than the $12,740,869 this year. The proposed property tax levy is .256776, which is slightly lower than the .259112 this year, Maline said.
“This is just a preliminary calculation. We don’t have all the evaluations yet, and they won’t be finalized until Aug. 20,” she said.
Maline there would be some areas that might need “tweaked,” but “usually this is pretty close.”
The commissioner’s thanked her for her work.
“We appreciate what you do,” Deterding said.
Also, the board:
• Adopted a resolution directing the County Treasurer to issue tax sale certificates to Lincoln County on parcels which are two years delinquent on real estate taxes or assessments.
• Issued certificates of correction as submitted by the county assessor to two stores that recently closed -- JC Penney’s in the amount of $894. 26 and U-Save for $6,491.74.
• Signed an agreement with Union Pacific Railroad and the Nebraska Department of Roads for repairs and addition of new crossing arms on the Maxwell Pine (main) St. UPRR crossing.
• Approved a special liquor permit for Sculleys LLC for a reception Aug. 26 at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.
• Reappointed Deputy County Clerk Terry Heessel to the Lincoln County Safety Committee for a three-year term.