Thursday, January 16, 2014
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Local contractor asks city to help lower property taxes in Lincoln

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[January 16, 2014]  Tuesday evening Willie Rentmeister of Rentmeister Construction of Mount Pulaski paid a visit to the Lincoln City Council. His purpose for being there was to discuss property tax assessments in the city of Lincoln.

Rentmeister is the contractor who has built one home in the new Rolling Prairie development on North Union Street.

While the home has been completed for quite some time now, Rentmeister said that potential buyers are being driven away by the approximately $7,400 annual property tax fees being charged by the county.

Rentmeister said he was coming to the city to ask them to do something to lower the taxes so the new construction homes in Rolling Prairie would be more marketable.

During discussion Tom O'Donohue said he was unclear on what it was Rentmeister wanted the city to do. He said the share of property tax that the city levies is really a very small amount of the whole picture and that it is the county that assesses the tax.

Rentmeister said for one thing, he knows there are relationships between government officials, and he is hoping that members of the city council will have discussions with others about this problem. He also said that he had to start somewhere in stating his case about the taxes, and he felt the city was as good a place as any to start.

Mayor Keith Snyder entered the discussion, wondering if the problem is actually the tax rate or the value assessment on the property. He noted that other communities don't have this type of problem. Melody Anderson added that perhaps there needed to be a discussion at the assessor's office on how they assess the value of a home.

Rentmeister also said that the assessments in the county vary from location to location. He noted the assessed value of the new construction home in Rolling Prairie is $228,120 and the taxes are over $7,000.

In Chautauqua Commons on the city's southwest side, a comparably valued home had a tax assessment of only $4,800. In the Country Place subdivision near Mount Pulaski, the comparable home has a tax assessment of $5,300.

O'Donohue said he would be all for finding a way to reduce the tax assessment for everyone, but he still wasn't sure what the city could do about it.

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Anderson suggested that perhaps the tax assessor's office should be encouraged to re-evaluate the process in which they assess the tax.

Snyder also told Rentmeister that the city has not been unaware of this problem. He said the city has been trying to conduct research into this issue to try to determine what the problem is.

The mayor also noted that an action that could be taken would be to give tax abatements on new construction homes. He also noted this could be a topic to discuss when the city does its strategic planning workshops later this spring.

Rentmeister told the city that for now, the subdivision is on hold. He said he wasn't going to invest in building any more new homes there until someone can come up with a solution to the tax problem.

Rolling Prairie is being developed by Patrick and April Doolin of Lincoln. The original proposal for the subdivision included new mid-income-level homes facing Union Street on its east side, with three larger lots farther to the east.

The Doolins are also planning on building their own homestead on the far east edge of the property. In the last two months, they have gone through the process of getting approval to establish a private horse farm on that property. At the Tuesday night meeting, the city council voted unanimously without discussion to allow the Doolins to move forward with that plan.


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