Mines In Nebraska A Taxing Controversy

Mining tax issues not buried in Cass county.

The Cassgram reports the county began efforts several years ago, primarily the hiring of a special appraiser, to determine what it believed to be a truer value of active mining properties than what had been used before. In 2007, that resulted in Cass County ordering the new valuations for properties with active mining interests. Three mining companies filed an appeal to the Nebraska Tax and Equalization Review Commission (TERC). The TERC and court of appeals ruled for the mining companies.

The county’s higher mineral valuations are still on the books for 2008 through 2012. The next expected move is the mining companies’ appeal of the 2008 valuations. County Assessor Allen Sutcliffe and County Attorney Nathan Cox are taking a different approach on defending the valuations which includes the return of the special appraiser to Cass County to look at all potential mining properties, not just the active ones. (Archives 9/20/12)

With the rulings invalidating the 2007 taxes, the entities that received those taxes are returning the money. It is a significant amount in some cases.

According to information supplied by Cass County Treasurer Richard Wassinger, the most affected entity is the Weeping Water School District which has to return over $98,000. The Louisville School District’s amount was about $7,000 and the Elmwood-Murdock School District was just over $2,000. (Weeping Water and Elmwood-Murdock took the option of claiming hardship which allows repayment over five years, said Wassinger.)

Cass County is refunding just over $39,000. To repay that 2007 amount, the county board directed the money be borrowed out of Inheritance Tax and then repaid in the 2013-14 budget.

In addition, fire districts, the county ag society and other taxing authorities are repaying too, although they are smaller amounts.

District 5 Commissioner Ron Nolte and District 4 Commissioner Dave Nielsen have not supported the county’s efforts in defending the mineral rights assessments. Both have said mineral rights appraisals need to be addressed more definitively through the state legislature.

Nolte looked to the commissioners-elect in the audience (John Warsing of District 1, Dan Henry of District 4 and Duane Murdoch of District 5) and said, “This has got to stop …we are going nowhere with it. It presents a false budget to our school districts.” Nolte said the county does not have the support of the State of Nebraska. Nielsen said there was a situation where there was tax imposed on property that was already mined. “There wasn’t anything there …so we don’t know what’s under there.”

Murdoch presented a question. “If we’re going to tax on that, why doesn’t the state tax on all the irrigation wells? That (water) would be a resource that they’re using.”


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