For many years, Nebraskans have complained about the unchecked rise in property taxes. The biggest contributor to our escalating property tax burden is the current valuation system for all property classes.
Owners of farms, ranches, small businesses, and homes all share in the suffering. Tax Foundation data show that Nebraska ranks seventh highest in the nation for property tax burdens.
The problem centers on our dysfunctional valuation system, operating under an arcane valuation law. This situation has led to an erratic application to our property, causing spiking of valuations that in some cases rise more than 100% of market value.
Until this session, the legislature has not tackled our problem as a major priority. Several partial solutions have emerged, but passage of these bills uncertain. Some legislators still do not understand our plight.
Without a comprehensive approach to curtail the growth of, or lower, property taxes, urban and rural property owners will continue to suffer "sticker shock" at each new assessment.
LB 576, sponsored by Sen. Tom Brewer, imposes a statewide four-year moratorium on property valuation increases. It is not a permanent solution, but it offers senators time and needed impetus to cooperate on non-partisan comprehensive valuation reform legislation.
It gives all property owners a breather from escalating property valuations. Another advantage is LB 576 does not compete with other tax proposals, including a bill to lower our income tax rates.
We expect opposition from numerous property taxing authorities dependent on an annual increase in property tax receipts. It's time to freeze their revenue spigots.
If you want property tax relief, you must lobby your state senator now to support LB 576 and subsequent valuation reform. It's time for our legislators to listen to property taxpayers instead of property tax spenders.
-- Edward Truemper, MD of Omaha, and Doug Kagan, president of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom, Lincoln