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September 11, 2015                                                                            www.nacone.org   NACO E-Line Archive  

Upcoming Events

Save the Dates For:  

 

Central District Meeting

Holiday Inn   

Kearney, NE
September 17, 2015

Agenda 

 

Northeast District Meeting
St. Benedictine Center, Schuyler, NE
September 18, 2015

Agenda  

 

Panhandle District Meeting
Gering Civic Center
Gering, NE
September 23, 2015

Agenda  

 

West Central District Meeting
Quality Inn
Ogallala, NE
September 24, 2015

Agenda

 

Nebraska Planning and Zoning Fall Workshop 

Holiday Inn,  

Kearney, NE

September 28-29, 2015

Agenda & Registration Information  

 

Register of Deeds Workshop
Holiday Inn
Kearney, NE

October 14, 2015

Agenda 

 

10th Annual NACO Legislative Conference
Holiday Inn
Kearney, NE

October 15, 2015

Tentative Agenda 

 

Southeast District Meeting
Mahoney State Park
October 22, 2015

Agenda coming soon

 

Nebraska Weed Control Fall Training
Kearney, NE

November 5 - 6, 2015

 

121st Annual NACO Conference

Younes Conference Center  

Kearney, NE

December 9 - 11, 2015

 

 

To view all upcoming events, click here.


WHO SUPPORTS NACO AND THEIR MISSION?

 

AssocMembersAssociate and Sustaining Members

NACO Associate and Sustaining Members enable NACO to enhance its continuing education programs for county officials across the state. Visit NACO's complete associate and sustaining membership list here.

In This Issue  
Legal Line      
recycleRecycling Grants Become Available

Recycling Equipment Grants Available for 2015-16

The Nebraska State Recycling Association (NSRA) still has grant funds available for municipalities, other government entities, non-profits and recycling companies (for example, waste haulers) who wish to purchase recycling equipment.  Interested parties should go to www.recyclenebraska.org or call Deb Rost at 402-933-3059 in Omaha for more information. Grants can help fund the purchase of recycling trailers, semi trailers, carts, dumpsters, balers, forklifts, trucks and more. Equipment may be new, used or in need of refurbishing. In some cases, applicant's existing equipment can be refurbished with this grant.  Grants will be awarded until the funds are depleted. This is a quick-turnaround program where application-to-approval is usually completed in approximately a month.
 
This grant is one of 113 grants that will receive $19.4 million in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The Trust has awarded more than $233 million to over 1,700 natural resource projects in Nebraska since 1993, and the grants are funded by proceeds from the Nebraska Lottery.

The Nebraska State Recycling Association is a membership organization of public and private organizations as well as citizens, and has been a recycling advocate for Nebraska since 1980. 
annconfresAnnual Conference Information
The 2015 NACO Annual Conference will be held in Kearney at the Younes Convention CenterThe conference dates are December 9th through the 11th.

The Kearney Visitor's Bureau has a webpage designed specifically for conference information as it becomes available through the planning process.  You can visit that page by clicking here.

Rooms have been contracted at the Wingate inn, the Hampton Inn, the Holiday Inn, the Holiday Inn Express, the Comfort Inn and the Fairfield Inn for $99.95 per night for single and double rooms and suites are contracted for $149.95 per night.

You must phone the hotel of choice to make reservations stating that you are attending the conference to receive the group discounted room rate. Only guaranteed reservations will be accepted. Reservations must be guaranteed with either a credit card or by direct billing back to your county.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Reservations may be made initially under the county name but must all have individual names of who will occupy each room no later than November 10, 2015. Any reservation being held under the county name after this date will be cancelled.

 

HEADQUARTER HOTELS LOCATED ON THE YOUNES CONFERENCE CENTER CAMPUS(See map):

 

Wingate Inn:     (308) 237-4400

 

Hampton Inn:    (308) 234-3400

 

Fairfield Inn:      (308) 236-4200

 

Comfort Inn:      (308) 236-3400

 

Holiday Inn:      (308) 237-5971

 

ADDITIONAL LODGING OPTIONS IN CLOSE PROXIMITY:

 

Holiday Inn Express:                                       (308) 234-8100  

 

Best Western Mid Nebraska Inn & Suites:        (308) 234-2541

 

AmericInn:                                                     (308) 234-7800

 

Country Inn & Suites:                                      (308) 236-7500

 

Ramada Inn:                                                   (308) 237-3141  

vetserveTraining to Better Serve Veterans

The Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors (NALHD) are supporting and coordinating five No Wrong Door trainings across the state (see attached flyer for dates and locations). These trainings have been developed by the multi-disciplinary Veteran's Brain Injury Task Force over the past several years to give community members from a range of professions/organizations a solid understanding of issues that veterans, service members, and their families/loved ones face. The training also gives participants resources and strategies they can use to serve veterans, service members, and their families better.

To view the informational flyer to obtain more details, click here.

Susan Bockrath, Executive Director of the NALHD says that, "I want to make sure that other folks, especially those who maybe don't think their work relates to veterans, know that these trainings are coming up and that there really is value for everyone... teachers, principals, county clerks, law enforcement...everyone."
entconfEntrepreneurship Conference For County Officials
 
Don't Miss the Entrepreneurship Best Practices Summit: Nurturing Entrepreneurship through Collaboration, October 21 in Lincoln

All of the speakers are confirmed and final arrangements are being made for the Entrepreneurship Best Practices Summit: Nurturing Entrepreneurship through Collaboration, Wednesday, October 21 on the University of Nebraska Innovation Campus in Lincoln.

Keynote Eric Englemann is the visionary CEO and founder of Geonetric, a software company that builds online solutions and provides digital marketing services to health systems around the country. Through his leadership, Geonetric has grown into one of the most admired companies in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City Corridor. Eric is a driving force behind the Iowa Startup Accelerator, Iowa's' first and only 90-day accelerator for early stage startups.

Could county government help establish Nebraska Startup Accelerators? You bet!

Presenter Brent Comstock, BCom Solutions Founder & Robertson Scholar, University of North Carolina and more importantly an Auburn, NE native, will introduce his model for reinventing rural communities. He is challenging entrepreneurs and innovators to consider looking to rural communities for ventures like tech start-ups and social enterprises.
 
Would county officials like to reinvent Nebraska's rural communities with new business innovators and ventures? You bet!
 
Presenter Erik Pedersen, Vice President of Entrepreneurship for the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship, NetWork Kansas is focused on growing the entrepreneurial environment throughout Kansas. The statewide network of non-profit, business-building resources helps entrepreneurs and small business owners start and grow businesses. Erik oversees the Entrepreneurship (E-)Community partnership, which has now grown to 48 communities across Kansas.
 
Would county officials like to be a part of local support networks that strengthen entrepreneurs and business development? You bet!

Make plans to attend the Entrepreneurship Best Practices Summit today. Early birds will get the reduced conference rate of $35 if they register at: www.regonline.com/bestpracticessummit before September 21. The conference runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Need more information? Check out the Summit's website: tinyurl.com/ebps2015 and Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Nebraska-Entrepreneurship-Best-PracticesSummit/1616111485307131?fref=ts or contact Carroll Welte, Nebraska Extension Educator at (402) 374-2954 or cwelte1@unl.edu.
interimroadRoad Hearings Scheduled by Transportation Committee
Public hearings related to a comprehensive study of Nebraska's state and local roads (LR318), including the expressway system (LR313), maximum weight limits (LR317), and removal of roadside vegetation (LR339), will be conducted by the Legislature's Transportation and Telecommunications Committee in the coming weeks. Interim studies and hearings are a tool used by the Legislature to investigate a specific topic that may be the subject of legislation in the coming session or an issue that was introduced during a regular session that needs further development.
 
The first Transportation Committee hearing will be held on September 16 at Northeast Community College in Norfolk at 1:30. The committee will take testimony on three study resolutions:
  • LR318 (Smith) Interim study to conduct a comprehensive study of Nebraska's state and local roads system
  • LR313 (Smith) Interim study to examine the process utilized by the Dept. of Roads in the design and construction of the Nebraska expressway system
  • LR317 (Scheer) Interim study to review the Nebraska Rules of the Road and provisions which establish maximum weight limits
Subsequent Transportation Committee hearings will be held on:

October 1, Grand Island Public School Kneale Administration Building, 1:30 p.m.
  • LR318 (Smith) Interim study to conduct a comprehensive study of Nebraska's state and local roads system
  • LR317 (Scheer) Interim study to review the Nebraska Rules of the Road and provisions which establish maximum weight limits
 
October 5, Lied Scottsbluff Public Library, 1:30 p.m.
  • LR318 (Smith) Interim study to conduct a comprehensive study of Nebraska's state and local roads system
  • LR313 (Smith) Interim study to examine the process utilized by the Dept. of Roads in the design and construction of the Nebraska expressway system
 
October 6, Lied Scottsbluff Public Library, 9:30 a.m
  • LR317 (Scheer) Interim study to review the Nebraska Rules of the Road and provisions which establish maximum weight limits
 
October 22, Crete City Hall Council Chambers, 1:30 p.m.
  • LR318 (Smith) Interim study to conduct a comprehensive study of Nebraska's state and local roads system
  • LR317 (Scheer) Interim study to review the Nebraska Rules of the Road and provisions which establish maximum weight limits
 
November 12, Bellevue University John B. Muller Administrative Services Building, 1:30 p.m.
  • LR318 (Smith) Interim study to conduct a comprehensive study of Nebraska's state and local roads system
  • LR339 (Garrett) Interim study to examine the current statutory requirements governing the removal of roadside vegetation
 
December 3, State Capitol Room 1113, 10:00
  • Joint Transportation and Telecommunications and Appropriations hearing - NDOR Needs Assessment - Invited testimony only
 
December 3, State Capitol Room 1113, 1:30 p.m.
  • LR318 (Smith) Interim study to conduct a comprehensive study of Nebraska's state and local roads system
  • LR317 (Scheer) Interim study to review the Nebraska Rules of the Road and provisions which establish maximum weight limits
  • LR319 (Smith)    Interim study to examine certain issues under the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission
 
Other legislative committees will also hold hearings throughout the fall. The Judiciary Committee and Department of Correctional Services Special Investigative Committee will take testimony on prison issues on Sept. 1, Oct. 9 (LR295), Oct. 23, and Nov. 6.
 
The Revenue and Education Committees will hold joint hearings on school funding (LR332 and LR344) on November 12.
 
The Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the Nebraska Oil and Gas Commission, including its role in decisions about the disposal of wastewater into dry wells (LR154 and LR247) on September 22.
 
A complete hearing schedule is available here.
legallineLegal Line
Editor's Note: Legal Line is a feature that will periodically appear in NACO E-Line. This edition has been prepared by Beth Ferrell of the NACO legal staff. Legal Line is not intended to serve as legal advice. Rather, it is published to alert readers to court decisions and legal or advisory matters important to county government. For a specific opinion on how the information contained in this article or that which will be discussed in future issues relates to your county, consult your county attorney or personal counsel.

TERC Burden of Proof
 
The Nebraska Supreme Court recently ordered the Tax Equalization and Review Commission (TERC) to reconsider a case using the same standard of review that applies to county board of equalization decisions.

In Cain v. Custer Cty. Bd. Of Equal., 291 Neb. 730, a taxpayer (Cain) failed to receive notice that the assessed value of his irrigated grassland for 2012 had increased until after the deadline to file a protest with the county board of equalization had passed.  Consequently, he filed a challenge with TERC pursuant to Neb.Rev.Stat. 77-1507.01, which allows TERC "to determine the actual value or special value of real property. . . if a failure to give notice prevented timely filing of a protest or appeal provided for in sections 77-1501 to 77-1510."
 
The TERC held two separate hearings on the petitions. On each occasion, two of the three TERC commissioners attended. The first hearing was a "show cause" hearing to determine whether TERC had jurisdiction over Cain's petitions. The second hearing was on the merits of the case. At the second hearing, one of the commissioners entered an order on behalf of the TERC dismissing Cain's arguments that his property should have been valued within a different market area and concluded that there was not clear and convincing evidence that the assessor's decision to classify the property in a particular market area was arbitrary or unreasonable. The order noted that prior cases on the issue of notice had been superseded by the adoption of 77-1507.01 in 2005.

The other commissioner dissented from the determination that the increased valuations were neither arbitrary nor unreasonable and would have accepted the taxpayer's opinion as to the actual value of the property. Because 77-5016(13) provides that the TERC "shall deny relief to the appellant or petitioner in any hearing or proceeding unless a majority of the commissioners present determine that the relief should be granted", TERC denied Cain's petitions and affirmed the assessor's increased valuations for 2012. Cain appealed and the Supreme Court removed the case to its docket.

The first issue addressed by the Supreme Court was whether TERC's decision was a valid order. Because 77-1507.01 had not been previously interpreted by the Supreme Court and it did not specify that a hearing held pursuant to this section must strictly conform to the procedural requirements for a protest before a county board of equalization, the Court found that such a hearing should follow the procedural rules applicable to other proceedings before TERC. Under TERC's normal rules, a majority of TERC members constitutes a quorum to transact business and one vacancy does not impair the right of remaining members to exercise the powers of the body. 77-5005. Thus two members could transact business. However, under 77-5016 , as cited above, the tie was effectively broken and the Court agreed that the order entered by a divided panel of two commissioners was a valid order. Because Cain did not argue in his brief that the use of a two-member panel was a violation of due process, the Court did not address the issue.

Next the Court addressed the taxpayer's argument that TERC did not have jurisdiction over his petitions because the assessor's failure to provide the notice of increased valuations rendered the assessments void. It found that the assessor failed to give notice but that the assessments were not void for lack of notice and thus TERC had jurisdiction to consider his petitions. It reviewed cases decided prior to the passage of 77-1507.01 in 2005 and found that the Court's rationale for declaring increased assessments void if the taxpayer did not receive proper statutory notice was based upon a denial to the taxpayer of the process due under the existing statutes. Since 2005, the failure to provide notice of an increased assessment or the decision of a county board of equalization no longer renders increased assessments void for a denial of due process.

Finally, the Court examined whether there was plain error in the standard of review used by the TERC. "Plain error is an error plainly evident from the record and of such a nature that to leave it uncorrected would result in damage to the integrity, reputation, or fairness of the judicial process." (citation omitted).

TERC applied the standard of review found in 77-5016(9), which the Court has previously interpreted to provide "a presumption that a board of equalization has faithfully performed its official duties in making an assessment and has acted upon sufficient competent evidence to justify its action." (citation omitted). The presumption remains until rebutted by clear and convincing evidence is presented.

The Court found that TERC should not have applied this standard to the petition because Cain's appeal was of a different nature than other TERC appeals. TERC's role in this case was not as an appellate body reviewing the county board of equalization's decision, but rather was in a position to perform an initial review of Cain's challenges to the increased assessments. In performing this initial review, TERC should have applied the same standards and burdens of proof as the board of equalization would have used in a protest. The process of protesting a valuation directly to TERC substituted for filing a protest with the county board of equalization and should be governed by the same standard of review and corresponding burdens of proof as a protest at the county level.

In protests before a county board of equalization, the valuation of the assessor is presumed to be correct. The burden of proof rests on the taxpayer to rebut this presumption and prove that the assessment is excessive. The standard applied is a preponderance, or greater weight, of the evidence. By applying its own standard, rather than the standard used by the county board of equalization, TERC erroneously increased the burden on the taxpayer to a clear and convincing standard. The Court reversed the TERC's decision and remanded the case for reconsideration on the record of Cain's petitions using the preponderance, or greater weight, of the evidence standard.

The Court did not address the constitutionality of Cain's allegations of lack of due process because he did not have a hearing before the county board of equalization. He did not satisfy the procedural prerequisites for appellate review because he did not file notice of the constitutional question.

Justice Connolly filed a dissenting opinion on the due process aspects of the notice and appeal to TERC, including the issue of two TERC commissioners rendering a valid decision on a taxpayer's protest if they disagree. While agreeing with the majority on certain elements, it argues that case law compels TERC to comply with the rules that would apply to a protest hearing before the county board of equalization.

The dissent agrees with the majority opinion that the TERC applied the wrong standard of proof but notes that there is no reason to distinguish the statutory adjudication requirement from the statutory standard of proof. It concludes that because TERC failed to render a valid decision under protest statutes, the Court did not have a final order or jurisdiction to consider the merits of the appeal. Instead, the TERC order should be vacated and remanded for a tie-breaking decision on the merits under the same standards that apply to a county board of equalization.

The full text of the case is available here: https://supremecourt.nebraska.gov/sites/supremecourt.ne.gov/files/sc/opinions/scAug28S-14-764.pdf
Countygovernementdaycd County Government Day PowerPoint
The PowerPoint presentation is available electronically at no charge (sent via e-mail) for use by counties during their annual County Government Day. The PowerPoint provides a comprehensive look at county government functions in the State of Nebraska and can be customized by each county. CD's are also available for $10.00 each to cover processing, shipping and handling. To request the County Government Day PowerPoint electronically, please e-mail your request to larrydix@nacone.org. The CD order form is available here .
NACO's 2015 Directory of County Officials is a valuable resource that not only gives you names, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers and e-mail addresses of every county official in the state, but includes a listing of county board meeting days, NACO districts, county seats, NACO officers and directors, affiliate officers and NACO staff.  In January, county clerks for each county will receive one complimentary copy of the directory intended for use by all offices in their courthouse.  For additional copies, click here for the order form.
County_Board_Handbook_2012 2014 County Board  Handbook and Revisions
The 2014 County Board Handbook and related revisions are now available. The cost for a current handbook, including legislative information from the 2014 session, is $80.00/book plus $18.00 shipping and handling per book. The 2014 Supplement to the County Board Handbook is available for $25.00 plus $5.00 shipping and handling. The order form is available on the NACO website here. For questions, contact Ashley Vandeloo by clicking here or call her at (402) 434-5660 ext. 223.
News From NACo

Counties Respond to Court Decision to Temporarily Block "Waters" Rule

On August 27, a federal judge temporarily stopped the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from enforcing the new "Waters of the U.S." rule in at least 13 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

U.S. District Court of North Dakota Chief Judge Ralph Erickson granted a preliminary injunction, citing the harm states would likely incur by the rule's planned implementation on Aug. 28. It is unclear at this point whether the order granting the temporary injunction applies only to the 13 states or nationwide.

NACo is seeking more information on the ruling's implications, particularly for counties outside of the 13 states that sought the preliminary injunction. Judge Erickson could clarify the scope
NACo President Sallie Clark testifies on the "Waters of the U.S." before a bicameral congressional hearing.
of the ruling as early as the end of this week. Currently, the EPA is arguing that the preliminary injunction only applies to the 13 states involved in the case, while others believe the federal ruling applies nationally.

"As the rule goes through the judicial process, we will continue to work with the federal agencies to clarify the regulation and implementation process," said NACo President Sallie Clark.  "All of us want clean water, and we must work together to achieve that goal without compromising our public safety and infrastructure responsibilities."  
 
Counties are responsible for many types of infrastructure that can be impacted by the rule, including roadside ditches, stormwater drains, flood control channels and other systems designed to keep water away from people and property. Counties own and maintain 45 percent of the nation's road miles and one out of every 10 bridges. Counties and other local governments are also charged with upholding federal, state and local regulations that protect water resources. 
 
"This has always been an issue of practicality for us. We hope the EPA and the Corps will work collaboratively to provide more precise guidance that will help us protect water and keep our residents safe," said Clark. "However, we also believe in the appropriate level of state and local control."

Since the agencies unveiled the proposal in 2014, NACo testified before congressional bodies four times and has steadfastly advocated for more collaboration and greater clarity.

For more information, visit NACo's online resource hub and action center: NACo.org/wotus 
nacoweb NACO Web-based Education 
Using Technology to Boost County Resiliency

Sep. 23, 2015
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm CDT 

New technologies can enable counties to operate and provide services to constituents in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. As counties across the country are working to increase their resiliency to natural disasters, they are frequently turning to tech solutions to help them plan for and quickly respond to emergency situations.

Join on Wednesday, September 23 from 2:00-3:00 PM ET as NACo's Resilient Counties initiative explores how Horry County, S.C. has used technology, particularly focusing on document management, GIS and mobile devices, to prepare for and respond to emergency events. This interactive discussion will feature Tim Oliver, the interim GIO for Horry County, S.C. and Terri Jones with Hyland Software.

To register for the event, please click here: http://naco.org/events/using-technology-boost-county-resiliency.
Nebraska Association of County Officials
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