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Douglas County sees most property valuation protests since 2007: 'I was shocked'

Posted at 7:26 PM, Jul 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-11 20:26:16-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It sure seemed like people were especially upset about their property valuations this year, and now, the numbers bear that out.

Douglas County saw about 7,300 protests filed, the most since there were more than 10,000 in 2007. The goal of most protesters: to lower the amount of property value on which they'll be taxed.

Lancaster and Sarpy Counties have seen the most protests in years, too. The deadline to file a protest in Nebraska was the end of June.

The reasons why, says the Douglas County Assessor's Office, has simply to do with a hot housing market. Although anyone can protest, even if their property's value wasn't increased, people are more likely to protest when their values go up.

The assessor's office looks at the prices of homes sold in the same neighborhood. Between 2021 and 2022, the average sales price increased by $45,000, says Zach Bass, who oversees residential assessments for the Douglas County Assessor's Office.

Per state law, homes must be assessed at 92% to 100% of the actual market rate, Bass said. Coming into this year's reassessments, that number had fallen to 84%, he said.

"In this market, it's hard to avoid (valuation increases) with how much stuff (sales prices) has increased In Douglas County," Bass said. "The supply is down and the demand is up."

John Ashford, a city prosecutor and president of the Dundee-Memorial Park Neighborhood Association, said he's heard more from those neighbors on property values than he ever has before.

Ashford is protesting after his valuation went up nearly $80,000.

"I was shocked," he said. "I had to read it twice. $80,000 was nearly the cost of my first home in Aksarben about 15 years ago."

Ashford believes homes, including his, aren't being assessed at true value. He says it's not fair to assess based on the "hysteria" of the market in the last few years.

"This shouldn't be a place where only certain people have the means to be here," Ashford said of his neighborhood, one of the most sought-after in Omaha.

Since 2013, 55% of residential property protests have resulted in some change.

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