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Village at North Platte v. Lincoln County Board of Equalization

Supreme Court of Nebraska

January 15, 2016

VILLAGE AT NORTH PLATTE, APPELLANT,
v.
LINCOLN COUNTY BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, APPELLEE

Page 202

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 203

Appeal from the Tax Equalization and Review Commission.

William E. Peters, of Peters & Chunka, P.C., L.L.O., for appellant.

Rebecca Harling, Lincoln County Attorney, and Joe W. Wright for appellee.

HEAVICAN, C.J., WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, MILLER-LERMAN, CASSEL, and STACY, JJ. McCORMACK, J., not participating.

OPINION

Page 204

[292 Neb. 535] Cassel, J.

INTRODUCTION

According to statute, a taxpayer's property valuation protest must " contain or have attached a statement of the reason or reasons why the requested change should be made." [1] In this appeal, the taxpayer's protest form specified the assessed and requested valuation amounts but stated no reason for the requested change. The statute's plain meaning required a " reason" and not just two different numbers. The protest did not substantially comply with the statute. And because the statute required the county board of equalization to dismiss the protest, the board had no power to do otherwise. It then follows that on appeal, the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) lacked authority to consider the merits of the property's value.

BACKGROUND

Section 77-1502(2) both imposes a requirement and specifies a consequence for its violation. The full sentence imposing the requirement states, " The protest shall contain or have attached a statement of the reason or reasons why the requested change should be made and a description of the property to which the protest applies." [2] The statute then states, " If the protest does not contain or have attached the statement of the reason or reasons for the protest or the applicable description of the property, the protest shall be dismissed by the county board of equalization." [3]

Village at North Platte (the taxpayer), through its legal counsel, filed a property valuation protest using a " Form 422A." We digress to note that the taxpayer is a private entity and not a " village" in the sense of Nebraska's least-populated type of [292 Neb. 536] municipality.[4] The protest form included a legal description of real property located in Lincoln County, Nebraska. The protest showed a protested valuation of $1,881,100 and a requested valuation of $1 million.

But the taxpayer left blank the box on the form designated " Reasons for requested valuation change (Attach additional pages if needed.)." And it did not attach a statement containing a reason for the protest. The Lincoln County Board of Equalization (the Board) dismissed the protest, citing § 77-1502(2).

The taxpayer appealed to TERC. In the taxpayer's TERC appeal form, it listed the reason for the appeal as follows: " This property is valued in excess of its actual value and is not equalized with comparable and similar property in the county." The Board moved to dismiss the appeal. It asserted that TERC lacked jurisdiction because the Board did not have jurisdiction ...


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