Omaha man’s work to fight property valuation increase pays off

Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 10:12 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2020 at 10:51 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Hundreds of Douglas County property owners are finding out if their property taxes will go up more than they think is fair.

The Board of Equalization voted on protests of recent valuations. In June, 6 News learned of a shocking increase on a vacant lot -- tonight the owner learns if his homework paid off.

When the value of his lot jumped 3,000 percent, John Riggleman said that his protest wouldn’t be an empty promise.

“I had no problem paying my fair share of taxes I just didn’t want to pay excessive taxes,” he said.

For years, the lot assessed at $800 got revalued by the assessor at $24,200 -- causing an estimated tax jump of nearly $500 a year.

Riggleman got on his laptop to research the land bank listings and prices for other lots in his area.

What he found were lots like his for sale from $2,000 to $3,500, far less than the $24,200 which is the value the county placed on his lot.

Riggleman turned in his homework to a valuation referee.

“If these lots are worth $24,000 why aren’t people buying those for $3,000? They’re not. They’ve sat there for several years now,” he said.

County Commissioner P.J. Morgan -- a successful realtor -- says that’s how to sell a valuation protest.

“If they really gather the good information and point out the facts, I think the referees do an excellent job in trying to have as much fairness as they can,” Morgan said.

The referee reduced Riggleman’s lot valuation from $24,200 to $3,000.

“I’m perfectly satisfied, I don’t think I’m over assessed,” Riggleman said.

Riggleman says his lot isn’t for sale and he’ll keep green space which is worth a lot more to his grandkids.

Douglas County Clerk Dan Esch said more than 6,800 protests went to a referee then the county board. About 3,900 property owners saw a change in their valuation.

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