Ruling Goes Against County

A Nebraska Court of Appeals action was expected to be watched closely by assessors that also have mineral mining companies at work in their counties.

The Cassgram reports the court ruled that the Nebraska Tax and Equalization Review Commission (TERC) made the correct decision in saying that Cass County’s higher assessment for properties with conditional use permits for mining was not allowed under state law.

The county handled the appeal internally. Martin Marietta Materials, Inc., represented by the Fraser-Stryker law firm, was opposite the county.

The county began efforts several years ago, including the hiring of a special appraiser, to determine what it believes 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). A decision handed down by the TERC last year reversed the 2007 Cass County valuation order.

The TERC ruled that the county’s assessments were void, and set the taxable value of the properties’ mineral interests at $0. The TERC agreed with the mining companies’ claim that the county did not assess all properties with mineral assets the same. The mining companies argued those mineral-rich properties that don`t have current extraction operations weren’t subject to the new valuation and that was unfair. (There are about 20 properties in the county with current mineral extraction operations such as limestone mining, or sand and rock quarries. There are many other properties with mineral assets but no current mining operations).

Cass County appealed the TERC’s decision to the Nebraska Court of Appeals. The crux of the county’s argument was that ‘mineral active’ properties—those operating under conditional use permits for mineral extraction—can be subject to a higher valuation.

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