OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - A Nebraska judge has ruled that property owners are entitled to more information about the process that the Douglas County assessor uses to determine property valuations.
The Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/1zajkIW) reports that District Court Judge Peter Bataillon ruled earlier this month that the new County Assessor Diane Battiato must provide the documents that explain how valuations were determined.
Several people went to court alleging that the Assessor’s Office is ignoring the Nebraska Open Records Act and State Department of Revenue administrative rules on assessment hearings.
Battiato has been holding hearings this month with people who are disputing their preliminary valuations, which determine property tax bills. These meetings are meant to reduce the amount of formal protests later in the year, after final valuations are set.
Despite the meetings, some taxpayers don’t believe they are getting enough information.
Monte Bowman, owner of AIVRAS, a company that specializes in commercial and industrial property taxes, had filed complaints with the Nebraska Attorney’s General Office on behalf of clients, but he says that no progress was made. He and several clients decided to go to court with the matter.
Bowman, however, does not blame the current county assessor, who was elected last fall.
“This is the old administration,” Bowman said. The judge’s order only applies to this year’s valuations, so Bowman plans to challenge valuations from previous years.
Battiatio says that her office is working on being as transparent as possible.
“My goal as the new assessor/register of deeds has always been - and still is - to find efficiencies and improve transparency,” she said.
Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com
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