Owners of CRP and pasture ground in Gage County may get a break on their property valuations after steep increases on their notices sparked concerns.
The increases were discussed by the Board of Equalization Wednesday morning, where creating subcategories of soil types that in many cases will result in a lower valuation for the two types of ground was approved.
Gage County Assessor Patti Milligan said the increase was the result of LB 372, a bill introduced by Sen. Steve Erdman to change the way the Property Assessment Division assessed grassland.
“I was concerned with it taking that big of a leap,” Milligan said. “After these valuation notices went out, everybody got calls.”
LB 372 required the Property Assessment Division to begin using grassland specific data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service as their primary source for assessing grassland.
As a result of the change in how soil is evaluated, Milligan said that some CRP and pasture ground that had previously been ranked as class 4 soil became class 1, the highest ranking, causing valuations to dramatically increase.
Lloyd Dickinson, an independent assessment contractor who works with Gage County, said he believes the original intent of the bill was changed and county assessors are working to correct valuations.
“In effect a class 4 soil, after it went through Lincoln, became a class 1 pasture soil,” Dickinson said. “Of course under the system, class 1 pasture soil is worth more than a class 4 pasture soil. It’s based on carrying capacity or the pounds of grass available for grazing. When you do that the pasture values went way up for assessment purposes, as did the CRP.”
Letters indicating valuations will be changed are being prepared by the assessor’s office and will be sent to property owners.
The median total valuation for agland in Gage County is at 69%, the lowest it can go by law, Milligan said.
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