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By LuAnn Schindler

Concerns expressed during 'postcard' hearing


September 29, 2022

LuAnn Schindler | Publisher

Hearing • A joint public hearing about proposed tax increases was held Friday, Sept. 23, at the Antelope County Courthouse. Antelope County Clerk, Lisa Payne, makes a list of citizens requesting to speak, prior to hearing presentations for Antelope County Commissioner Regina Krebs, Elgin Public Schools Superintendent Mike Brockhaus and Summerland School Superintendent Kyle Finke.

Approximately 50 individuals attended a public hearing about local property taxes, Friday, in Neligh.

Presentations from representatives of Antelope County, Elgin Public and Summerland schools read statements about tax requests.

Citizens weren't shy about increased costs.

The hearing, required by a new law - LB644 as amended by LB1250 - was passed by the Nebraska legislature in 2021 and known as the Property Tax Request Act.

Some call it truth in taxation.

Based on legislation, each political subdivision must send notifications to taxpayers regarding a joint public hearing when proposed property tax requirements increase by more than 2%.

Antelope County residents affected by the increases received a pink postcard via the United States Postal service.

Each subdivision representative presented a brief statement regarding the tax increase.

Antelope County Commissioner Regina Krebs said the total tax asking increase is just under $1 million, increasing the levy by "just over two cents."

"Commissioners have worked to cut requests. originally a proposed estimate of a seven-cent tax levy increase. Currently, it represents a 2.3-cent levy increase," Krebs said.

She cited increased fuel supplies and materials for some of the increases.

"Projects are up as high as 20 to 30%," she said.

Elgin Public Schools Superintendent Mike Brockhaus cited increased costs for special education, insurance and building improvements. District officials are considering an update to the school's HVAC system in the elementary and high school buildings. Currently, window air units are utilized.

"It's become a health situation with our kids," Brockhaus said.

He said in order to provide and maintain special education services, a requirement set by federal and state laws, for youths age birth to 21, an increase is necessary.

The district saw a 5.11% increase in valuation, with a tax-asking request of 44.413 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. That is a 7.44% increase over a year ago.

Summerland Schools Superintendent Kyle Finke said the district's tax rate will be 73.9661 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which is a 14.92% increase from the previous year.

Valuation for the district increased 5.91%.

Finke said the increase in taxes covers principal and interest payment on the bond fund, along with increases in special education needs and transportation.

Fourteen individuals spoke during the public comment period. Several were dismayed about how the increases will affect rural residents who pay more town property owners. Others shared that costs have increased for individuals, also.

"We're all here because we didn't want any more of our taxes to keep going up and up. At some point, somebody's going to have to do some budget looking and see how we can cut things to find out where we're going to have better common ground," said Marilyn Rader of Brunswick.

Several speakers said property valuations had increased too much.

Shawn Schmidt said, "From 2021 to 2022, there's already a $600 increase just for the Summerland school district on my property alone. You're asking for another $600. So essentially you're asking for double what it's valued. On mine alone, it's 23% from last year to this year."

Taxpayer concerns expressed Friday more than likely will not affect tax payments. Tax rates and budgets must be submitted to the state by Sept. 30.


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