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Cedar County sees $18 million decrease in valuation

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HARTINGTON — Close to 5,000 notices on valuation changes in Cedar County were in the mail on June 1.

Notices on valuation changes, whether up or down, were sent to all Cedar County property owners, said Cedar County Assessor Don Hoesing.

Overall, the county-wide pre-certified valuation for Cedar County is down close to $18 million from last year.

Most of the changes in valuation occurred with ag land, while residential and commercial property owners will see minimal changes in valuations.

One of the biggest changes in ag land shows up with a 20-35 percent increase in grassland valuations, according to Hoesing.

The Nebraska Dept. of Revenue introduced a new soil conversion that moved all of the lowest classes of grassland up in value.

The changes are due to legislation that was passed in 2019 and implemented this year.

“This was huge. They tweaked the soil types and classes. The lowest class of grassland is now the highest,” Hoesing said. “The State is getting a lot of heat from counties and from individuals. This is a big thing.”

Dry crop values are down by five percent. There were no changes in valuations on irrigated land, however, he said.

Valuations for tax purposes on residential, commercial and ag properties are based on the selling price of property. State law mandates the assessed value on property must fall within a range established by the Legislature. The statute states ag land has to be valued between 68-75 percent of what the sales are showing while the range for residential and commercial property is placed at 92-100 percent of the sales.

Sales from the past three years are used to set the valuations for Ag land. Sales from the previous two years are looked at to set the valuations on residential and commercial properties.

In order to have a deed recorded at the Courthouse when property is sold, a Real Estate Transfer Statement, Form 521, has to be filled out and signed. The form records the selling price for the property. The County Assessor then adds the assessed value of the property to the form and a copy is submitted to the Dept of Revenue.

Each year, the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) looks at the statistics for each county. If a county is not within the mandated range, an order can be issued for the county to comply.

Valuations placed on property for tax purposes have to reflect the market, according to Hoesing. Valuations for the county will be finalized and submitted to the Cedar County Clerk by Aug. 20. The numbers can and will change somewhat before the valuations are certified to the county clerk and other subdivisions, Hoesing said.

A raise in valuation does not necessarily mean there will be an increase in taxes for the property owner. The market sets the value but budgets set the taxes, Hoesing said. The tax rate or levy is set after the budgets have been submitted to the Cedar County Clerk in August each year. If the budgets are asking for more money the taxes will need to go up to cover the expenses.