Do Your Employees Have These Benefits?
In July the LIBA Board of Directors asked me to testify about the property taxes levied by Lancaster County. Below is the message we delivered.
LIBA is strongly urging the Lancaster County Commissioners to lower the property tax levy in light of the 2017 evaluation windfall.
Last year commissioners received a raise of 1.15%. The new budget shows the commissioners are receiving a 5.7% pay raise this year. Our state senators are paid $12,000 per year. Lincoln City Council members are paid $24,000 per year. County Commissioners are paid $42,484 per year and are budgeting a 5.7% raise. On top of this, their retirement payment is going up too. Each will receive over $3,000 a year in retirement and will get another payment to cover health insurance after they leave office. We understand that the pay increases are the result of a committee recommendation, however, if the Commissioners are going to accept these raises, we ask that they work harder to lower taxes.
Additionally, if the taxpayers cannot see any property tax relief in a year with such large valuation increases, perhaps it is time to look at employee benefits. Long-term employees (20 years) receive 5 weeks of vacation, 10 paid holidays off, another 2 days of paid Personal Holiday, 10 to 12 days of sick leave, free life insurance, a post-employment health plan, dental insurance that is around $5.00 a month depending on the union, and pay only $38 per month for their personal health insurance.
While we understand that some of these benefits may be subject to the Commission of Industrial Relations (CIR), we would again encourage the county to seek changes to the CIR.
LIBA knows and understands that there is just not enough money to fix our existing county road and bridge problems. Additionally, funding for an East Beltway could be on the horizon. We know the Commissioners are considering an additional $1 million in funding for the County Engineer, and they are to be commended for that. We would also recommend establishing a sinking fund for the $1.5 million for the Raymond Road bridge that was delayed by the state.
In January, LIBA made a suggestion to a commissioner that forming a Blue Ribbon Roads & Bridge Funding Panel would be a good idea. Today, we recommend to the full board that they form a citizen group from all corners of the county to study the funding issue. The problem will not go away, so let’s meet it head-on.
Finally, LIBA would like to weigh-in on the Railroad Transportation Safety District (RTSD). As the body that regulates the RTSD levy rate, we are asking that the Commissioners also lower that levy rate too.
This windfall is not coming from commercial property, office property, retail or manufacturing. The windfall is coming from homeowners. As a community we need to stand up for families and their ability to afford a home.
Certainly the Commissioners could find a hundred ways to spend this windfall. But we urge you to return it homeowners.
LIBA studies and promotes these types of issues that are important to businesses and our community. If you have an interest in joining LIBA, please call me at (402) 466-3419. LIBA membership is not restricted to just businesses. We also have “individual” memberships for those who want to help influence our local government decisions.
For more information on LIBA, visit Liba.org.