Douglas County must raise homeowners' property valuations by 7 percent in a large swath of central and west Omaha, a state tax equalization commission ruled today.

The county also must decrease residential property values by 8 percent in most of northeast Omaha.

The Nebraska Tax Equalization and Review Commission issued the ruling after a hearing in its Lincoln offices this morning.

It did so on a 3-0 vote from Commissioners Nancy J. Salmon, Robert W. Hotz and Steven A. Keetle.

The adjustments would apply to preliminary residential valuations set by Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds Diane Battiato for 2016.

The equalization commission had proposed the adjustments because it said the assessor's office valuations were outside the range allowed by Nebraska state law.

The assessor's office opposed the adjustments in today's hearing. Chief Field Deputy Jack Baines told the commission that a blanket decrease in the northeast Omaha area could actually increase the gap between many homes' market value and their assessed valuation.

As for the central and west Omaha areas, Baines said the county had not changed valuations much there from 2015 because he considered the office's sales data for the area to be unreliable. He told the board that the office is working to verify sales data and would have more reliable information for 2017.

Battiato did not attend the hearing. Mike Goodwillie, compliance officer for her office, told the commission she was ill.

The county could appeal the order in court. No decision has been made on that point, said Larry Miller, chief office deputy in the assessor's office.

"We will just go back and look at everything and come up with a game plan," Miller said.

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