Typical Douglas County property valuation hike nears 13%
If you are concerned about property taxes in Douglas County, the latest news isn’t the best.
First, we learned that the Douglas County Assessor increased the valuations of existing residential properties by 7%. But the overall increase understates the impact on property owners. According to an Omaha World-Herald analysis of property valuations, a nearly 13% increase was a more typical figure among taxpayers seeing higher valuations this year.
On the heels of this news, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert presented her 2021 budget to the public and the City Council. Because of the 6% valuation increase, the city is expected to receive a windfall to fund general expenditures increasing almost 5% over the previous year.
Now, you will once again hear that taxes aren’t going up in Omaha because the levy remained the same; however, that is not a clear picture of the true landscape if this budget passes as-is. As mentioned previously, the City of Omaha plans to collect 6% more of your property tax revenue and spend it. Now, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing given the city’s priorities, but we have to call a spade a spade – keeping more of your tax dollars is a tax increase.
North Omaha is one of the hardest hit for valuation increases this go-around. The average home valuation rose 24% since last year according to Douglas County data provided to the Nebraska Department of Revenue. In the difficult economic times of this pandemic, imagine what it must feel like to see your CARES Act relief dollars being swallowed up by increases to your property tax bill.
Whether it is because of assessors across the state increasing valuations or other elected officials not returning valuation increase windfalls, property taxes are hurting Nebraskans. Fortunately, the Legislature passed LB103 last session, which provides more transparency to the windfall crisis we’ve seen for the last decade. It also gives the public another opportunity to voice their concern and ask political subdivisions for their property tax dollars back.
Transparency measures for local tax levies are important because even if the Legislature succeeds in passing school-related property tax legislation this session, all other property taxing political subdivisions will remain unaffected. It would not take much for increases in city, county, and other political subdivision property taxes to undo progress lawmakers hope to make on school district property taxes.
In reference to the pandemic, Mayor Stothert states, “there wouldn’t be any other way that we could do the 2021 budget without just assuming it’s a normal year, and then adjusting if we need to.” Unfortunately, these valuation hikes by assessors and property tax increases have become the new normal, while families, businesses, and agricultural producers have to make hard adjustments to their budgets.