DAWSON COUNTY — Perhaps the most important time of year is approaching for property owners in Dawson County. Assessor John Moore said this week that his office is busy now compiling information for the annual valuation change notices, scheduled to arrive by mail June 1.
This marks the opportunity for property owners to protest their “valuations” for 2020. Moore noted that the form to file for a hearing in front of the county board of equalization will be available in the courthouse entryway just outside the county clerk’s office, June 1-30
The county clerk manages the calendar for setting the hearings, usually held in July. Those protesting may put their forms in the outside ballot box, mail them, or leave them at the entry desk. Notification of when the hearings will be held will follow.
Members of the county board of commissioners, the clerk and assessor make up the board of equalization. Property owners are urged to bring forth arguments to convince the board why the value should be altered. Evidence of sales of similar homes are needed, said Moore.
The period for establishing a sale for the value study covers two years, ending Sept. 30 last year. For 2020, the sales ended in 2019.
However, the equalization board is flexible in its deliberations. Fresher information may have some influence, especially a fee appraisal on the subject property.
“A mere opinion about taxes being too high will not be of any use,” said the assessor. Sold property is used to revalue similar unsold property.
Moore said revaluations occurred in a large portion of the county this year due to the shifting markets. Changes were made in the agricultural sector, and several residential areas, including Lexington and Cozad.
The assessor noted that the drop in agricultural markets sales has finally caught up with the assessment cycle, and there has been an adjustment accordingly.
Also influencing that was action by the State Legislature updating the formula for calculating farm ground. In recent years, the formula was based on the market as dry land crop. Now it is compared to irrigated land. This caused a major shuffling of soil subclassifications.
After years of no 1A1 irrigated subclass, 1A1 has returned. Much of the grass subclassifications were raised into higher levels, such as 3G to 1G. This makes it very difficult for him to explain the “why” on the changes, said Moore, other than it was part of the legislation.
None of the market was influenced by the current issues with the pandemic because of the timing. Any changes this year, influenced by COVID-19, would have to be handled by the state legislature, the assessor noted.
The valuations are supposed reflect a range of 92-100 percent in all but the agricultural production ground. That sector is proportionate at 69-75 percent.
“I tried to keep the ag ground down around 69 per cent to help mitigate the high market of the past several years, coupled with another soil conversion” Moore said. That would put the decreases in double digits, depending on how the soil conversion comes out.
Residential homes, while less volatile, have increased slightly as shown in the market place. Property value for taxes had not changed much for about three years in Lexington, and six years in Cozad. The assessor recommends that owners may want to keep that in mind when considering how much of an increase has occurred since the last update.
He said the best protests are those that show there is considerable difference in valuations between similar neighborhoods, especially where there are numerous sales.
The information on the record is available to the public. There could be some difficulty in trying to get into the courthouse, however; depending on how the COVID-19 issue works out by June, Moore said.
The gworks.com website has current data.
Protest forms are also available on the county clerk’s portion of the Dawson County website.