- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

PILGER, Neb. (AP) - Last summer’s tornado that destroyed much of Pilger has left the village facing an uphill battle in the coming year due to reduced property tax revenue.

But as crews work to replace homes that were damaged in the June 2014 tornado and businesses look to fill the now empty Main Street, the assessed value of property in the community is expected to increase, making Pilger’s future outlook much brighter than the current one.

The tornado had destroyed about 40 percent of the homes in Pilger, the Norfolk Daily News (https://bit.ly/1JUwp1F ) reported.

The valuation of taxable property in the community stood at more than $10.6 million in 2014. This year, due to the high loss of property, the valuation was more than $7.8 million.

Any property that exists on Jan. 1 remains on the tax rolls for a full year. In Pilger’s case, homes and businesses that existed on Jan. 1, 2014, were still taxed this year as if they still exist, when many don’t. To some homeowners’ dismay, there’s no provision in Nebraska law to lower taxes on property damaged by natural disasters, said Stanton County Assessor Cheryl Wolverton.

Some residents have moved away, abandoning their property. As taxes for those properties aren’t paid, they will come up delinquent. The lower 2015 valuation total and the wait for delinquent properties to receive new owners translate into lean times for governmental entities that rely on property taxes.

Still, president Gene Willers of Midwest Bank, said that he believes that time will make all the difference. The Pilger-based bank is one of the businesses that has posted its blueprints on Main Street.

It’s not the only one; other plans in the works include a new combination community center and senior citizens center, a convenience store and a restaurant, among other businesses.

“I’m upbeat about Pilger’s future, because of all the new building going on here,” Willers said.

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Information from: Norfolk Daily News, https://www.norfolkdailynews.com

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