Ruling Affects Pioneer Village Tax Status

The news Pioneer Village received on January 18 was not the news they were waiting to hear when the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) presented their ruling from Doug Ewald, Nebraska State Tax Commission and Ruth Sorensen, Nebraska State Property Administrator  vs. Kearney County Board of Equalization & Harold Warp Pioneer Village Foundation.


TERC found that there is competent evidence to rebut the presumption that he county board faithfully performed its duties and had sufficient competent evidence to make its determination. The Commission also finds that the applicant for the exemption has failed to prove its entitlement to the exemption and further finds that there is clear and convincing evidence that the county board’s decision was arbitrary and unreasonable.


TERC reversed the county’s approved tax exemption for Harold Warp Pioneer Village Foundation for 2011, meaning Pioneer Village will have to pay in back property taxes to Kearney County to be on the 2011 tax rolls. The property tax assessed value on the motel is $1,080,415 and campground is assessed at $134,915. Taxes for the motel will be $25,841.25 and the campground will be $3,226.94. The state is currently hearing the 2012 tax exemption status and the board of equalization will be determining the 2013 status during their March 19 meeting.


The Pioneer Village Motel and campground has been tax exempt since it opened.


Pioneer Village filed a statement of reaffirmation of tax exemption for the property tax year 2011 with Kearney County Assessor Linda Larsen on November 24, 2010 and Larsen determined the subject property (consisting of a motel owned by the Harold Warp Pioneer Village Foundation and in addition to the motel, the Village owns and operates a museum and campgrounds adjacent to the property).


The Kearney County Board of Equalization determined that the property was exempt from ad valorem taxes for the tax year 2011 pursuant to state statutes 77-202.04, 77-701 and 77-5007.


Tax Commissioner Eward and Property Tax Administrator Sorensen protested the county board’s decision to TERC and requested that the commission find the property to ad valorem property taxes.


The Commission’s review of the determination of the county board is de novo. When they consider an appeal of a decision of a county board of equalization, a presumption exists that the “board of equalization has faithfully performed its official duties in making an assessment and has acted upon sufficient evidence to justify its action.”


The parties have stipulated that Pioneer Village is used exclusively for education purposes. The Commission found that the parties have not stipulated according to state statute for the commission to determine the taxable value of the property and therefore limited to determining the exemption status of the property.


The full article can be found in the February 6, 2013, edition of the Minden Courier.

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