New Property Tax Hikes Headed Your Way

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New Property Tax Hikes Headed Your Way

The City of Lincoln has a new Capital Improvement Program that will be making its way to the Lincoln City Council. This document lays out future projects that the City of Lincoln would like to fund during the next six years. In this document, it also specifies the projects that would be funded with a property tax increase via several bond issues.

At some point, we must have two conversations. First, we must ask which of these projects are “wants” and which are “needs.” Then we must talk about how much more we can add to the property taxes on your home, farm or business.

So what property tax increases could we be looking at? Below is the list just from the city. This list does not include any possible bond issues from the county, or the new bond issue for Lincoln Public Schools.

  • $6.6 MM – New 911 Communications Center
  • $9.4 MM – New Fire Department Headquarters
  • $19 MM – Fire Station Repairs & Fire Apparatus
  • $42 MM – New Downtown Library
  • $6 MM – Branch Library Upgrades
  • $13.5 MM – Quality of Life
  • $9 MM – Stormwater #1
  • $11 MM – Stormwater #2

What would the Lincoln City Libraries do with the $6 MM in branch upgrades? Among other things, they would like to buy sorters, which check-in and sort materials. These would be installed at three of the busiest branch libraries. They also want smart chutes, which check-in materials immediately when deposited in outside book drops and would be installed at all locations. Additional square footage would be added to the Anderson Branch library too. The city libraries would also like to convert to Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that would allow items to be processed as a group.

Regarding the new Fire Department Headquarters, the Lincoln Fire & Rescue Department administrative staff currently operates from two different locations. They say that management of the department from one location would save money and management would be more effective. If that is the case, why not move into the huge new MSC building (Experian) that we spent millions on? Maybe it’s because land has been offered to the Fire Department via a long-term lease on 22nd and O Street. This location would also offer space for 911 services, emergency management, and an emergency operations center. There is also an interested buyer for the land and building where their headquarters currently resides. It’s likely that a developer would add condo or rental units to this prime location near the UNL campus.

There are two big surprises in the new plan. The first one is the new 911 center. The Director of Public Safety tells me that the 911 center and new fire H.Q. would likely be delayed. If we really need this new 911 center, then we should save any leftover 911 sales tax funds for this project!

The other surprise – two additional fire stations are in the plan. We are already building four new fire stations with money from the 911 sales tax that is still being collected through most of 2018.

On top of all this, the Mayor wants the voters to approve a new ½ cent sales tax to pay for roads, this November.

Some tough decisions lie ahead.

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