3647 Lafayette Avenue, Ste 110; Omaha, NE 68131 otocfornebraska@gmail.com 402-344-4401

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OTOC Housing and Community Revitalization Action Team Report – May 24, 2016

June 9th, 2016


A diverse group of North Omaha residents came to Claire Memorial to raise concerns about their dramatically reduced tax valuations for 2016

Members of the OTOC Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Team joined with Pastor Portia Cavitt and Pastor Michael Williams to hold a meeting on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at Clair Memorial United Methodist Church addressing the concerns of northeast Omaha property owners in response to dramatically lowered tax assessments for 2016.

Approximately fifty people attended, including County Commissioners Rodgers and Boyle, Councilman Ben Gray, Assessor Diane Battiato, County Clerk Dan Esch, and Attorney Gary Fisher of Family Housing Advisory Services.   Channel 7 interviewed Rev. Cavitt and Rev. Williams in a report that aired at 6:00 pm that day. 

Gloria Austerberry of OTOC provided an overview of  the process the County followed in establishing the 2016 valuations and the current state of the dispute between Douglas County and the State Tax Equalization Review Committee which ordered Douglas County to reduce valuations in Northeast Omaha by 8th and increase them in Central West Omaha by 7%.


County Commissioner Chris Rodgers explained the appeals process and said that is the only option now

Many people from the floor had tough questions for the elected officials present including one woman who said she bought her home 10 years ago for $60,000 and it was  reduced in tax  value a few years ago to $47,000 and was now has a 2016 proposed tax value of  $27,000 by Douglas County. She asked how this could happen? Douglas County Tax Assessor Battiato said that tax values are simply a reflection of the sales in that come from that  area of the City and that the collapse of the housing market in 2008 was still being felt in the Northeast part of the City.

Commissioner Rodgers and County Clerk Esch told people that they can appeal their tax valuations during the month of June if they want to ask for a lower or higher valuationa. Attorney Gary Fischer reminded the audience that tax valuation is not necessarily the  actual market value of their and that people should not panic because the County has set their values are less than they had believed. Tax Values are set by a process of mass valuation while the market value of each home is established by what a willing buyer will agree to pay the seller.  Many people expressed concern about how the tax values of their main asset, their home, could be so much less than they have been in recent years.

Council Ben Gray noted that the Omaha Vacant and Abandoned Property Registration Ordinance and the Omaha Land Bank which OTOC has fought for are new developments to help restore our neighborhoods.  OTOC believes there is much we can do to protect the equity in our individual homes, but we have only begun to explore collective action we can take to improve our neighborhoods.

216 donate to Institute for Public Leadership in support of leadership through OTOC and community organizers

June 9th, 2016




On Wednesday, May 25, 2016, IPL held an event in conjunction with Omaha Gives! in which 216 individuals made 230 contribKen Smithutions. Throughout the 24 hours of the event, IPL received $26,779 to continue forming community leaders. As a result of our gracious donors, IPL had the most donors within the last eight hours of the day, which allowed us to win a $3,000 participation prize. IPL will also receive over  $1,000 from the Omaha Community Foundation in “Bonus Dollars” which a match the donations of our donors.

As a result of the Omaha Gives! event, the Institute for Public Leadership had the  5th highest participation  for the day out of 170 mid-sizedMark Hoeger fist pump organizations which participated. Our generous donors contributed over $31,000 to sustain our leadership development for community leaders, including those from Omaha Together One Community. Thank you for your support.




OTOC and IPL to hold Summer Training Academy: “Leadership in an Election Year”

May 20th, 2016

2016 Visioning Session

Thirty seven OTOC leaders attended the May 14 Visioning Session where they agreed to sponsor 3 summer training sessions on Leadership in an Election Year

OTOC and Institute for Public Leadership will hold 3 workshops this summer to help Omaha leaders prepare for “Leadership in an Election Year.” All sessions will be from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. at Augustana Lutheran (3647 Lafayette Ave).

Monday June 13--Listening and Telling our Story: Creating a Narrative for the change we want in our communities

Monday July 11--Sharing our narratives and agenda for change with voters; how to organize successful non-partisan voter education campaigns

Monday August 8–holding a large accountability session with candidates for office; how to make our agenda the candidate and successfully win their commitment to support it.

Session 2 Marshal Johnson at front of room

Over 90 people from 40 different organizations attended attended at least one of the three 2015 leadership training sessions


OTOC Environmental Action Team pleased, voters reject NRD bond to build more dams

May 7th, 2016

On Tuesday, May 10,  voters in the NRD’s six-county area rejected the proposed bond initiative to build 6 more dams. Thanks in part to the strategic work of OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability  Action Team, the ballot bid was supported by only a small margin in Douglas and Sarpy Counties and then rejected by nearly 2-1 in the district’s four rural counties.

Thank you for the support.   OTOC is pleased with the outcome and looks forward to working with the NRD to find more sustainable solutions to prevent flooding.


The primary election had a Special Issues Ticket that involved authority for the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District (NRD) to issue bonds to pay for a series of dams for the alleged purpose of flood control.  A vote in favor would have allowed the NRD to increase its tax levy to pay for the bonds.

The Environmental and Sustainability Committee recommended a vote AGAINST the bonds and tax.  According to the Omaha World-Herald the new dams and reservoirs would cost nearly $100 million.

OTOC Environmental Action Team Statement opposing NRD Bond Election

OTOC urged voters to consider the following:

Many Questions Need to be Answered before supporting bonds

  • There are many questions surrounding the practice of using the dams for flood control instead of other greenway designs to meet flood risk reduction targets.
  • The need for the dams is based on a 1997 study. A new, independent study is needed.
  •  A recent study by UNO research staff questions NRD’s assertion that a major rain event would cause major property damage in Papillion and Bellevue.  This research suggests that NRD’s damage claims are significantly exaggerated.
  • NRD has been criticized for not encouraging conservation practices such as rain gardens and retention ponds that could stop runoff from new developments and lessen the need for the dams.
  • Many believe that building new dams stimulates new housing and commercial developments on the lakes that are created. This contributes to urban sprawl and negative impacts on our environment.

Why are we voting on up to $100 million in bonds with so little discussion and education?

  • Questions have also been raised about why the vote is on a primary ballot when turnout will be much lower than in a general election.
  • OTOC believes there hasn’t been enough public discussion about the precise need for the dams and the accelerated time schedule for installing the dams that the NRD desires to undertake.
  • Four members of the NRD board have come out against the need for the bonds at this time.
  • OTOC believes there must be more public discussion about less costly alternatives and more environmentally sound options before any new dams are built.

When you see the special issues ticket on your primary ballot, OTOC’s Environmental and Sustainability Committee recommends a vote NO–AGAINST the bonds and taxes that would be approved for the Papio-Missouri River NRD.

For a copy of this statement, click on the link below:

OTOC Environmental Action Team Statement opposing NRD Bond Election

Four Letters to Editor explaining opposition or support for Bonds



Thirty Seven OTOC leaders attend “Leadership in an Election Year: Visioning and a Timeline for Action”

April 24th, 2016

On Saturday, May 14 from 9 am to Noon at St. Pius X Catholic (70th and Blondo), 37 OTOC leaders from 12 congregations and several Action Teams  met to identify the issues and non-partisan strategies OTOC will pursue during this election year and beyond.

During the September and October, OTOC will ask candidates for  the Nebraska Unicameral, U.S. Congress and OPPD to participate in OTOC Candidate Accountability Sessions with to discuss their stands on the issues that matter to all Omaha families like improving housing, mental health care, community safety, access to affordable health care, and sustainable energy. 


OTOC will ask candidates to discuss their stands on the issues that matter to us like:

  • improving housing, mental health care and community safety;
  • increasing access to affordable health care and sustainable energy
  • and fair treatment of immigrants and refugees

You are invited to help shape the vision and work of OTOC over the next 18 months. Call 402-344-4401 or contact us at otocfornebraska@gmail.com for questions.

8:45 am to register and light breakfast snacks

9:00 a.m. Session 1: Why We Organize

10:00 am  Session 2: Possible organizing strategies for the Summer and Fall

11:00 am  Session 3: Adopting our Plan of Action

12:00 Noon–Visioning concludes and organizing begins

You are invited to help shape the vision and work of OTOC over the next 18 months. Call 402-344-4401 or contact us at otocfornebraska@gmail.com for questions.

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