OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — An attempt by one Douglas County commissioner to lower the property tax rate for next year failed because the other commissioners feared there were just too many unknowns for a major change.
The board was poised to set the property tax rate for next year at 29.599 cents per $100 of taxable property but Commissioner Jim Cavanaugh had other ideas — hoping to lower the rate by 3.4%, or 28.559 cents per $100.
“We need to put our money where our mouth is regarding property tax relief,” said Cavanaugh.
The county is primarily funded by property tax dollars.
Cavanaugh argued his point and called for relief for property owners based on the fact that the county has extra money from COVID relief packages and because valuations on property went up over 5%.
“It’s real clear if we don’t change the mill levy, your property tax bill will go up,” said Cavanaugh.
But there was push back from the commissioners present.
“I think it’s irresponsible at this point and we need to figure out the lay of the land.”
Commissioners worried that due to inflation and the economy, the waters in 2022 could be rocky and they didn’t want to potentially increase the rate next year.
Commissioner Mary Ann Borgeson said Cavanaugh was giving misinformation on COVID relief money and didn’t like that his amendment came so late in the process.
“I just think this is totally disingenuous of you,” said Borgeson. “This is the first time I’ve heard of this and I just don’t think that’s a really fair way to play.”
Commissioner Mike Friend said the issue isn’t the property tax rate — it’s a problem they can’t fix with one vote.
“The levy is not the initial problem. It’s our equalization, it’s the way we assess property in this state, that’s why the taxes are going up.”
Friend suggested that the board should work on changing how properties are valued, while also more closely scrutinizing the budget, next time around.