Controversy Over Taxing Land Gets Addressed

Priority bill on tax assessments. Nebraska District 2 State Senator Paul Lambert made it his priority. Lambert made that designation because he says “It offers a solution to a problem that has existed in a part of District 2 for almost four years. The Cassgram reports that as introduced LB 750 would clarify that, for purposes of determining valuation for a farm home site, the acre of land under the home site cannot be compared to land in a residential subdivision.

The practice of comparing these two types of land is at the heart of a controversy that has been on-going in Sarpy County since 2009. The disagreement between rural landowners and the Sarpy County assessor began that year, after the assessor raised the value of the home site acre from $10,000 to $64,000. The Sarpy County assessor explains this change as a matter of fairness and updating of valuations in a county that has increasingly urban characteristics. The affected Sarpy County landowners have filed formal protests for the past three years. They sought help from the Sarpy County Board of Equalization, the state's Tax Equalization and Review Commission, the state's Department of Revenue, the Legislature's Revenue Committee and the District 2 legislative office.

“When I was appointed to represent District 2 in the legislature, I received a thorough briefing on this issue. I attended the Revenue Committee's public hearing on interim study LR 350, where I met with and heard testimony from concerned Sarpy County constituents. After listening to testimony on LR 350, Revenue Committee Chairman Senator Abbie Cornett concluded that the Sarpy County situation appeared to be an unintended result of a 2008 change in the state's old greenbelt laws. Senator Cornett stated her intention to offer a solution to the problem in the current legislative session.

“LB 750 was introduced on the opening day of the 2012 legislative session. I was pleased to add my name to the bill as a co-introducer. The Nebraska Farm Bureau and the Nebraska Association of County Officials have worked with Senator Cornett's office and me to develop amendment language to help Sarpy County without interfering with the work of assessors in the rest of the state.”

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