Newsletter Image

Superintendent Press Release September 30, 2022

Dear Cedar Bluffs Families,

This week I attended the Joint Public Hearing required by LB 644. Cedar Bluffs Public School was not required to present because we did not exceed the 2% plus growth in our tax asking but all other schools in Saunders County did and a few cities plus Saunders County did as well. I have many concerns about LB644 but mostly, the legislative bill written by Senator Hansen of Blair is poorly constructed. First only schools, counties, and cities are required to participate in this hearing not every political subdivision, which puts a target on schools, counties, and cities. Second, by law this public hearing must occur after September 17th but before September 29th. Budgets are due September 30th, and most administrators have a process where the administrator meets with heads of departments and gets input on their needs for the upcoming year, then constructs a budget, meets with a finance committee to further define the budget, then presents to the full board and then depending upon suggestions at that meeting, will refine the budget to be prepared to submit by September 30th. So, any suggestions or concerns at this meeting, will fall on deaf ears, because the budget has already been through a refining process and in most cases, the budget had already had its own hearing of which taxpayers are invited to and was approved before this meeting. The public hearing that occurs because of LB644 is to set the tax asking, that will fund the budget, that has already been approved earlier in September and will not change based on comments from those coming to this joint public hearing. Third, a postcard is sent to everyone in the county listing the city, county or school that is proposing to exceed the 2% plus growth by September 5th. Again, this implies the budget is already done and does not include ALL taxing authorities because some political subdivisions are not required to participate, and some may not exceed the 2% plus growth like Cedar Bluffs Public School. The cost of the postcards to be sent was estimated to be over 1 million in cost, of which the county will bill the schools, counties or cities that are required to participate in this “joint public hearing”. Lastly, Governor Ricketts spoke last week about LB1107, called the property tax credit fund. So, even though you must pay your property taxes you can “apply” to get back around 30% in a refundable credit. The postcard doesn’t show that refund.

At the joint public hearing I attended in Saunders County, I would estimate that 80% of the people that chose to speak had a concern about how their assess valuation went up. No one presenting on behalf of a school, county, or city at that meeting was responsible for a property owners’ assessed valuation going up. Assessed valuations are determined by the county assessor and in all reality, all the county assessor does is look at comparable homes and land surrounding your property and recent purchase prices. So, when farmers where seeing huge increases to their farm valuations that was when you saw people purchasing irrigated farm ground for $20,000 per acre and if you own land next to that property, guess what, your land was now valued at $20,000 per acre for taxing purposes. The same is now true for housing, where we are living in a time that people are willing to pay 2 and 3 times what a home is worth, and when a house next to mine sells for $200,000, then my home is valued at $200,000 for taxes purposes. Some have referred to LB644 as the “postcard law”, I call it the “grab your pitchforks and torches law” because that is really the only thing it accomplished. It created an environment where people, who are already frustrated with how much taxes they pay, are sent a postcard with only partial tax information, and asked to gather in a place where only some tax entities are present to voice concerns, without any real chance of change happening but the budgets have already had a hearing and been approved. It’s time for our legislation to come up with real solutions to real property tax problems. The State of Nebraska is ranked 43rd out of 50 States in funding to Public Schools.

#Wildcat Pride!