Omaha, Nebraska 2021-09-16 19:57:29 –
Seward and Valley, Nebraska (KMTV) —Marlin Nielsen has lived on a farm in Seward County for over 20 years and has been running a full-time farm and ranch since retiring from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Animal Science Professor. is.
His 2020 property tax invoice for his Seward property and small property west of Sandhill is higher than the annual income of many Nebraska residents.
“About $ 51,000 a year,” says Nielsen.
Nielsen is one of the thousands of Nebraska ag producers responsible for funding the local school district.
Of that $ 51,000, more than $ 36,000 will be sent to school.
That $ 36,000 for education, less than $ 4,000 was paid to his home, and more than $ 32,000 was paid to his land and agricultural buildings.
“In agriculture, everyone thinks you need to make enough money to pay for it, but that’s not true,” Nielsen said.
He is not alone. According to a report by Clayton economist Ernie Goss in 2019, the ratio of income to Nebraska’s residential and business property tax payments has been stable, around 3-4%, over a seven-year period.
However, tax payments on farmland have skyrocketed to more than 12 times the amount paid by Nebraskas to their homes.
“Looking at the data is shocking,” says Nielsen.
The reason they are so expensive is that Nebraska needs money to fund public schools.
The Goth Report shows that the average Midwestern state uses property taxes to fund about 35% of the total income of public schools. In the case of Nebraska, public school income is covered by about 55% of property tax.
This is because the majority of public schools receive only a small amount of money from the state to fund education, and the rest comes from the county’s property tax.
This includes the Douglas County Western Community School.
“We really consistently receive about 10% of national aid,” said Dr. Melissa Polonchich.
Dr. Melissa Poloncic is the director of DC West Community Schools and receives a small portion of his budget from state aid.
This is compared to Omaha Public Schools, which receive about half of their income from state aid.
“That was the way the system was actually developed, and it didn’t have to be the same, but it had to be fair,” says Poloncc.
Property tax payers pay most of DC West’s budget, but the district has helped them by lowering property tax rates over the past two years.
“Last year we reduced taxpayers by 13 cents. This year we will reduce it by another cent,” Poloncic said.
As a result, property taxes continue to rise, while many school districts throughout the state are tightening their belts.
Nielsen, who belongs to the activist group Fairnebraska, has an idea.
One idea is that the majority of property tax payments that go exclusively to schools continue to come from taxing homes and apartments and leave businesses and land without paying property taxes to schools.
“When it comes to taxing schools, the only way I can see that we can balance them is to tax only housing assets,” Nielsen said.
Obviously, this leaves a gap of hundreds of millions of dollars, so it also includes a valuation of the state’s sales tax rate.
“I believe the ability to change the sales tax system is our greatest opportunity to change,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen wants to raise the Nebraska sales tax rate, which is currently 5.5%, while adding sales tax to currently exempt goods and services such as groceries, plumbing, haircuts and car repairs.
While Poloncic leaves policy to the experts, she believes the state should bear more of the burden.
“Are we investing enough state resources in our local school district?” “It reduces taxpayers, so property taxes will decrease,” said Polonicc.
These ideas have been tried and failed in the past in a unicameral system. Governor Pete Ricketts is fighting what he believes to be a tax increase at every stage.
The legislature could only make minor amendments, such as adding to the fixed asset tax credit relief fund and introducing some tax credits that Nielsen calls band-aids that do not solve the bigger problem.
“It’s the current tyranny. It seems like we can’t discourage what we did last year to do the same thing next year,” Nielsen said.
Poloncic is fine with change as long as it can provide quality education to its students.
“We may reorganize our funding, but if we fund us at a consistent level, we will support it,” Poloncic said.
Until that happens, Nielsen will continue to take care of his cows, corn and soybeans and will continue to fight peacefully for Lincoln’s changes.
“I’m as optimistic as I can,” Nielsen said.
Proposals to limit how much local governments can raise their annual budget failed in Congress this year, and Senators wanted to reorganize their plans in 2022.
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