WAHOO – A new law to help property owners faced with damage from a calamity was discussed at last week’s County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Saunders County Assessor/Register of Deeds Rhonda Andresen told the board that more information is finally coming out about LB 512.

The bill passed this past session by the Unicameral is aimed at helping owners of real property whose property has suffered significant damage as a result of a calamity occurring on or after Jan. 1 and before July 1 of the current assessment year. The new law directs property owner to file Form 425 with the county assessor and the county clerk by July 15.

Andresen said the new law does apply to damage caused by the March flooding and she has already received four forms. She is expecting more to be filed.

She told the board that her office will be able to offer re- assessment information, but the law spells out it is up to county board of equalization to make the final determination if any valuation adjustments are made.

“So, this will be in your hands,” she said.

The board of equalization has until July 25 to take action. However, it can grant itself an extension on that until Aug. 10.

Those filing form 425 must accompany it with documentation of the damage. The damage must exceed 20 percent of the assessed value of the current tax year for the real property.

Supervisor Scott Sukstorf questioned what type of damage would be considered.

Andresen said the law does not cover crops or livestock.

According to the Department of Revenue, Property Assessment Division, a calamity is defined as a disastrous event, including, but not limited to, a fire, an earthquake, a flood, a tornado, or other natural event which significantly affects the assessed value of the property.

Destroyed real property does not include property suffering significant property damage that is caused by the owner of the property.

Significant property damage is defined as:

1. Damage to an improvement exceeding 20 percent of the improvement’s assessed value in the current tax year as determined by the county assessor;

2. Damage to the land exceeding 20 percent of a parcel’s assessed land value in the current tax year as determined by the county assessor; or

3. Damage exceeding 20 percent of the property’s assessed value in the current tax year as determined by the county assessor if a) The property is located in an area that has been declared a disaster area by the Governor and b) A housing inspector or health inspector has determined the property is uninhabitable or unlivable.

Supervisor Craig Breunig questioned the intent of the law, given that it is not only for just this year and has a July 15 deadline. He said a calamity could happen after July 15 but would not allow damaged property owners to file.

Andresen said no information is available yet about how the new law would work in coming years.

“It’s what we are up against this year,” she told the board.

Form 425 and instructions may be found at http://www.revenue.nebraska.gov/PAD/forms/f_425.pdf.

In other business last week, the board approved several adjustments to the county’s budget to cover department overages.

There will be a transfer of $7,600 from general funds into the Election Commissioner’s budget.

Saunders County Clerk/Election Commissioner Patti Lindgren said last November’s general election was unique. In addition to the ballot space needed for a number of contested races, she said work after the election was also increased due to recounts and other necessary work. Additional help had to be hired too because an office member had a conflict of interest in the election.

The building security budget also needed a transfer of a little more than $14,000 to cover additional staffing requirements at the Law Enforcement and Judicial Center.

Saunders County Attorney Joe Dobesh requested an additional $4,640 for his child support budget. He said his office has been working hard to clear old child support cases, but that has come with a few more expenses.

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