Dawson County Commissioners approve TERC settlement with Ronald Klein

A difference in opinion over the assessed value of land with pivot irrigation and gravity irrigation reached all the way to the state level for final decision.

LEXINGTON — After a period of discussion in executive session, the Dawson County Commissioners voted to approve the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Revenue Commission, TERC, settlement with Ronald Klein.

According to state TERC documents, the settlement relates to a 159.67 acre property which is own by Klein. The parcel features a partially enclosed livestock shed located in the county.

Dawson County Assessor John Moore had determined the assessed value of the property was $720,112 for tax year 2016 and $720,112 for 2017, according to TERC documents.

Klein then protested the assessments to the Dawson County Board of Equalization, requesting the valuation be $618,097 and $595,000 for 2016 and 2017 respectively. The county board of equalization held with the assessor’s initial valuation of $720,112, according to TERC documents.

After this determination, Klein appealed the decision to TERC. A hearing for the appeal was held on Aug. 31, 2018 which Commissioner Robert Hotz presiding, according to TERC documents.

“The central issue in the dispute between the parties is the difference in value, if any, between parcels utilizing gravity irrigation and those utilizing pivot irrigation,” the TERC documents read.

Bart Woodward, a farm manager and real estate broker, testified on behalf of Klein. Woodward testified parcels with pivot irrigation have a higher per acre parcel value than those with gravity irrigation.

The TERC board noted, according to TERC documents, Klein, “did not introduce any studies to support this assertion.”

John Moore testified on behalf of the County Board.

According to TERC documents, Moore “has been unable to discern any difference in sales prices between gravity irrigated and pivoted irrigated land,” when the value is not attributed to the value of the pivot machinery.

The TERC board observed both parties were using different methodologies to determine the assessed value of the property.

It was determined by the TERC board Klein had not shown the County Board’s valuation to be, “grossly excessive.” The board concluded Klein had not provided sufficient evidence gravity irrigated parcels should be treated differently from pivot irrigated parcels for assessment purposes, according to TERC documents.

The TERC determination upheld the taxable value for Klein’s property to be $720,112 for the tax years 2016 and 2017, according to TERC documents.

The Dawson County Commissioners Board of Equalization met on Nov. 15 and entered executive session to discuss the TERC settlement with Klein. After the executive session was ended, the commissioners voted to approve the settlement.

During the regular meeting of the county commissioners, Dawson County Historical Museum Executive Director Crystal Werger appeared regarding the loan of county personal property.

Deputy County attorney Kathy Kuhn said she was able to create a loan agreement in which the county would loan school public records to the DCHM for storage and informational access.

The records contain census records, superintendent reports, principal reports, etc. All of the records are public, Kuhn said. The county would still be the owners of the records and the DCHM would be responsible for the upkeep and preservation of the records, she added.

The commissioners approved the loan to DCHM.

Sheriff Ken Moody appeared with the October crime report. Bills for federal inmates have been sent out and the county is waiting for these to be paid.

Jail population remains on the high side, Deputy Shane Tilson reported there were 106 inmates in the jail on Friday morning. Moody also said calls for service were slightly higher. Improvements to the jail roof are half done, Moody added.

Treasurer Vickie Clements presented the 2019 distress warrants, and said they were not as high as last year. There were 134 warrants, 40 less than 2018 and some of them had already been paid by those responsible.

Zach Hibner representing GL Concepts, LLC appeared regarding a special designated liquor license. Hibner was asking for a one day liquor license for a Christmas party Gothenburg Health was holding at a location south of Gothenburg. The commissioners approved the license.

Dawson County Road Superintendent Mark Christiansen presented recommendations for an engineering firm agreement with the county.

Christiansen said they sent out proposals and got five back on time, one which was not and couldn’t be considered. After interviews were held, Elk Creek Engineering was determined to be the best fit for the county’s needs, Christiansen said.

Commissioner Butch Hagan, who was absent for the meeting, was supportive of Elk Creek, Christiansen said. The commissioners approved Elk Creek as the county engineering firm for the next year.

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