Voters’ Guide: Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds

The League of Women Voters of Greater Omaha contacts candidates during each election cycle and invites them to participate in the print and online editions of the Voters’ Guide. Candidates provide their biographical information and their positions on selected issues. Candidates are aware in advance that the biographies and answers will be printed exactly as submitted without edits for content, spelling, punctuation or grammar.

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PDF of Douglas County Voters’ Guide | Find voter information specific to your ballot at vote411.org.

All residents of Douglas County, Neb., are represented by this office.

Candidates for Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds

Diane L. Battiato (D):  Web Site: http://www.dianebattiato.com.  Current Public Office, dates held: Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds, 2015-current.  Past Public Office, dates held: Douglas County Register of Deeds, 2005-2015; Papillion City Councilwoman, 1997-2002.  Education: Randall and Londay Schools of Real Estate – Nebraska Licensed Real Estate Broker 1986-current; Nebraska Assessor Certificate; International Assoc. of Assessing Officers courses 101, 102, 300 certificates; Nat’l Certified Public Official designation.  Military experience: none.  Volunteer experience: Omaha Area Board of Realtors and Nebraska Realtors Association; Women’s Fund of Greater Omaha; League of Women Voters; NAACP; Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; United Way of the Midlands; ENOA, Meals On Wheels and more.

Walt Peffer (R):  Web Site: http://walt peffer for assessor.  Current Public Office, dates held: None.  Past Public Office, dates held: None.  Education: Attended UNO, Nebraska Real Estate License, State of Nebraska County Assessor Certificate.  Military experience: U.S. Army, Viet Nam veteran.  Volunteer experience: United Way, American Legion, Ralston Chamber of Commerce, church activities. Served on Omaha Charter View Commission, Served on City of Omaha Efficiency Commission.  Coach youth football, baseball and basketball.

Douglas County Assessor/Register of Deeds Candidates’ Responses

What are the two most compelling issues to address within the assessor’s office?

Diane L. Battiato:  One—Researching and determining the best method that will ensure land records are maintained in pristine condition so that they will always be available for use, which is required per state statute; and Two—continuing to strive for the best, most reliable process to use to provide fair and equitable property valuations.

Walt Peffer:  The current Assessor Office is in turmoil and requires someone with my 20 years of real estate and government background to set goals and objectives, and will be a advocate for the taxpayer. I will work to deliver fair, accurate and equalized valuations.

What, if any, changes need to be made regarding property valuations and the process of contesting those valuations?

Diane L. Battiato:  The valuation-protest process is dictated per state statute; no changes can be made at the local level.  Regarding property valuations, a planned, ongoing effort must be made to educate the public about the process, i.e., the difference between mass appraisal, which we employ, and fee appraisal.  Also, an effort must be made to educate property owners about the difference between valuations and taxing entities’ (political subdivisions) tax rates.  Understanding who actually controls tax rates.

Walt Peffer:  Get valuations right the first time, that are fair, accurate and equalized. Once preliminary valuations have been established, I will hold town hall meetings throughout the county so that the taxpayer does not have to take time off of work to meet with their Assessor.

If elected, what would be your first-year priorities?

Diane L. Battiato:  A: First—Continue my 4-term success as a proven, positive leader; Second—Continue to strive to provide fair and equitable valuations by using proven methods such as better identifying sales trends in smaller, more similar neighborhoods; and Third—Increase and improve communications with property owners that will result in obtaining more accurate, thorough information about an owner’s property.

Walt Peffer:  Get valuations right the first time, that are fair, accurate and equalized. Develop an attitude in the Assessor Office that we work for and with the property taxpayer.

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