County hikes MEDC support

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

McCOOK, Neb. -- Red Willow County commissioners agreed to an increase in the county's support of the McCook Economic Development Corp., during their weekly meeting Monday morning.

Following a presentation by new MEDC director Kirk Dixon, commissioners raised the county's 2015-16 contribution of $750 to $1,000 for 2016-17.

In 2002-03, commissioners doubled the county's yearly contribution to MEDC from $5,000 to $10,000. In 2009, commissioners slashed in half the county's annual membership contribution to the MEDC, from $10,000 to $5,000, for the 2009/10 budget year. The county's contribution has dropped steadily since. The MEDC started as the Industrial Development Corp. in 1985; the named changed to MEDC in 1997.

Dixon explained that since he started his new position on April 18, he has identified MEDC's four priorities: Support for existing businesses, secure new businesses, establish new housing and community partnering in strategic planning.

Although Dixon said he can't claim credit for the "Best of" designations that McCook has garnered lately, he does claim to be one of McCook's "greatest cheerleaders." The designations he told commissioners about are:

* 10 Best Places to Retire in Nebraska:, McCook, No. 3 (June 2016); and 2016 Best Places to Retire in Nebraska,, McCook No. 4 (June 2016).

*10 Great Places for Food in Nebraska, Lincoln Journal Star, Sehnert's Bakery, McCook, June 2016.

*The Best Diner in Every State in America,", Fuller's Restaurant, McCook, No. 1 (May 2016).

*Best Places to Live in Nebraska,, McCook, May 2016.

Commissioners approved a request of $10,096 for 2016/17 for Domestic Abuse/Sexual Assault Services (DASAS), to provide services for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, family violence, sexual assault and stalking in Red Willow County.

This is the same amount that DASAS requested and that the county contributed in 2015/16. DASAS serves a seven-county area in Southwest Nebraska.

DASAS director Donna Goad told commissioners that there was a 15 percent increase in the number of families served last year. In 2015/16, DASAS assisted 206 Red Willow County families, compared to 178 families the year before.

DASAS's actual budget for 2015/16 was $222,359.42. The projected budget for 2016/17 is $287,626.61. Funding comes from county and city contributions, the Nebraska Crime Commission, state and federal grants, the McCook Community Foundation and fund-raising efforts.

County commissioners and county assessor Sandra Kotschwar discussed tax valuation protests Monday afternoon, needing to have decisions finalized by Monday, July 25, and results to owners by Monday, Aug. 1.

Commissioners and Kotschwar reviewed each of the 55 protests, in many cases looking at evidence provided by property owners or that they gathered on their own inspections.

Most of the decisions were based on one of these responses: 1. No change due to lack of evidence; 2. No change. All site values were increased on this year's valuations; 3. No change based on recent sales/current values of similar properties; 4. No change. Sales of ag land support current value; 5. Change from irrigated to dryland; 6; Increase depreciation based on evidence provided/condition; 7. and 8. Value based on recommendation from professional appraiser, and 9. All agricultural land is required to be at 69-75 percent of market value.

In several cases, the exterior of a property conceals problems within. On one protest, Kotschwar said, "This one fooled us. The outside looks good, but it's been gutted inside. There's no water and no electricity. It's used for storage only." On another, she said, "This one fooled us with new siding. They're trying ... they're doing some work inside."

Some remodeling projects are close to completion; some are a long way from being done. One is awaiting a decision from the state on the presence of asbestos.

One property owner requested an increase in valuation to justify a loan for extensive remodeling. McNutt said they can't just increase a property's value because the owner requests it.

Kotschwar has to be able to justify a change in condition, but can take that approach when the condition of a home/property deteriorates. The interior of one homeowner's property won't improve until/unless they fix the leaky roof ...

And don't ask commissioners and Kotschwar to reduce the tax valuation of the property you just purchased, or when the county valuation is already lower than the purchase price.

If a property owner isn't satisfied with the commissioners' and Kotschwar's decision, he/she has the right to appeal it to the Nebraska Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC), a constitutional body created by the Nebraska Legislature in 1996 to provide an avenue of appeal for property owners to challenge the assessment of property in Nebraska.

A TERC appeal form is available at the county clerk's office or by downloading and printing the form at

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