Latest property valuations ignite new fires of opposition

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- The perennial battle is back in full swing as homeowners in Douglas County are getting unexpected news about the value of their homes.

Property owners in Benson, Elkhorn and Millard have seen valuations rise as much at $40,000.

Shari Stone said, “Somebody is not doing their job. Someone is not paying attention to what the state mandates are properly.”

Stone received a postcards advising her that her property valuation went up tens of thousands of dollars. The valuation on her Elkhorn home has changed four of the past six years and she says she’s had enough.

“I don't understand how that has happened since we have lived in this house for several years. It has been updated several times with the valuation over the years to represent the market but $34,000 in one year? That is ridiculous. My husband is not working right now. It's just me and so it's really stressful. If I can't pay my taxes, they're going to take my house.”

Douglas County Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson has been flooded with calls from worried homeowners saying, “that they are in double digits and they're very concerned. They've been through this process a couple of years ago. Last year they didn't see as much and they're right back at these high increases.”

Past County Assessors under-valued property. Current Assessor, Diane Battiato, decided to bring property values up to market levels - first for land values, then for structures - each in one lump sum.

Borgeson said, “My argument has been all along that even though we are behind double digit increases and making up those areas in which we are behind should not be done in one fell swoop because our taxpayers can't handle that.”

Shari Stone agrees. “We've got to stand up and fight this. It's ridiculous because the people that are paying for this are the middle income, the lower income and we can't do it anymore. Something's got to give.”

Commissioner Borgeson said those wishing to contest their valuations need to set up an appointment with the County Assessor's office before February 28th.

Shari Stone said she has already done so and has an appointment for February 8th.