Box Butte County Assessor Michelle Robinson filed an appeal with the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Review Commission on nine commercial properties after the Box Butte County Board of Equalization voted to reduce the values on those properties at protest hearings earlier this year.
The nine properties include Arby’s, a vacant lot owned by Immanuel Lutheran Church, K.L. Wood Construction, Alliance Community Pharmacy, Cover Jones, Steve’s Lite Truck, Steph Mantooh’s building in the 200 block of Box Butte Avenue, Tom’s Cycle and Repair and Total Reflections Salon.
Robinson emphasized that filing the appeals is far different from filing a lawsuit against the county, noting that it is a common step in the protest process.
“I am not suing the county, this is just a step in the appeal process,” said Robinson. “The local level of equalization is the Board of Equalization, which are the county commissioners. The next level of equalization is at the state level, which is TERC, which is what this is. This is my appeal to TERC that I believe the county board did not do their due diligence in creating an equalization in property values here. Even individual taxpayers who file a local appeal with the county board, if they don’t like the county board’s final decision, they can appeal to TERC also.”
Earlier this year, Robinson noted, Robinson served as a witness during a TERC hearing after a taxpayer filed an appeal against the decision of the Box Butte County Board of Equalization from a protest in summer 2018.
Robinson explained that she filed the appeal after her recommendation that no change in value on the properties be implemented was not followed by the Box Butte County Board of Equalization.
“I had filed an appeal on nine commercial properties that the county board had changed that I recommended no change to,” said Robinson. “That was based on in 2019 I applied a commercial reappraisal to Alliance commercial properties. With the board’s decision to make changes to nine of the properties, I believed that their actions were arbitrary and unreasonable, creating inequality. My recommendations were based on my assessment actions that I had done for 2019 based on the years of experience and continuing education for my assessment process.”
Robinson explained that county assessors are required to review properties every six years, which set the deadline for her to complete the review of Alliance’s commercial properties. She said that assessed values must be at market value, but that assessors are allowed to implement a range of 92 to 100 percent of market value.
“That’s based on statistical measures, because we have to look at sales of properties that have occurred over the last two years, whether it be residential properties or commercial properties. For agriculture properties, the time frame is three years.”
Assessors can take one of three approaches to value on commercial properties, Robinson explained: cost approach, which is what it cost to build the property minus depreciation, sales comparison approach, which uses sales that have occurred, and the income approach, which is based on typical market rent and expense for a building type.
Robinson said the cost approach is rarely used on established commercial properties. Robinson implemented the income approach in the 2019 review of Alliance’s commercial properties.
Robinson said the location and date of the TERC hearings have yet to be set. She noted that the TERC board has traveled across the state in the past, though due to budget restrictions, the board does not travel as frequently.