Omaha, NE—At least one Nebraska lawmaker knows the pain of Douglas County’s property valuation mess first-hand: State Sen. Lou Ann Linehan’s Elkhorn home has been hit with a $208,000 —49 percent— increase.
An ongoing investigation by News Channel Nebraska finds that the controversy, which has angered countless homeowners, is letting loose a ripple effect of concerns from the statehouse to at least one nearby county courthouse.
Among the growing worries: Taxpayers outside of Omaha are being fleeced.
As News Channel Nebraska first reported, while many Douglas County property owners are complaining of outlandish higher valuations—some upwards of 200 percent— which will likely mean higher property taxes, Douglas County Commissioner Chris Rodgers saw his home’s valuation plummet 33 percent.
That left Rodgers $111,000 “underwater” and worried about his family’s financial future noting if he had to sell his near north side home he couldn’t break even.
Rodgers’ numbers—and he says other inner city homes within the Omaha Public School District also went down— are not lost on Linehan, a member of the Legislature’s Education Committee.
“I have concerns that property in OPS mostly went down, whereas everything west—Millard, Elkhorn—mostly went up,” she tells News Channel Nebraska.
According to Linehan, that means suburban Omaha schools could take a hit in state funding— with OPS getting more money.
“The higher a school district’s resources the less they receive…Fine if it is fair, but from what I am seeing many times it is not,” says Linehan.
Asked by News Channel Nebraska about her 3,000 square foot home which was valued at $425,000 in 2016 but has jumped to $633,000 this year, Linehan says it was undervalued— but not by $208,000. “I’ll be happy to sell it to you for what it has been appraised.”
Sarpy County Board Chairman Don Kelly is convinced that those Douglas County homes that have been under-valued for the last several years means taxpayers in his neck of the woods have been bilked.
“We’re paying more than we should be,” says Kelly.
According to Kelly, with several taxing bodies—Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, Learning Community and Metropolitan Community College—cutting across county lines Sarpy County taxpayers have been picking up Douglas County’s financial slack leaving public school funding, which is funded largely by property taxes, far from equal.
Kelly tells News Channel Nebraska, “Equalization is broken in this state.”
Kelly’s 3,100 square foot Papillion home saw a two percent valuation increase from $478,633 in 2016 to $489,610 in 2017.
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