Property tax reform, bridges, top counties’ wish list at Unicameral

January 6, 2019

YANKTON - When the 2019 session of the state legislature opens a week from today, many expect property tax reform to top the agenda.

Larry Dix, the executive director of the Nebraska Association of County Officials, says county leaders statewide will be watching progress carefully as counties typically end up in stuck in a difficult position on the much-debated issue.

“There are things that counties need to do for the public, for the taxpayers, and the taxpayers want those services but they don’t want their tax bill to go up, and the legislature doesn’t want any increased taxes,” Dix says, “so we’re right in the middle.”

Many solutions have been offered in past years to halt fast-rising property taxes, including raising sales taxes to offset property taxes, but finding universal appeal is very difficult.

Dix says Nebraska’s county leaders are waiting for the legislature to come up with a viable solution.

“A lot of these ideas are ideas that come about when somebody says, ‘Well, if we do this, this will solve the problem,’ and it may solve the problem for a year, but three or four years down the road, then, sometimes we’re in a worse condition than what we’re in right now,” Dix says.

Dix says county leaders also want to see lawmakers work to bolster a bridge cost-sharing effort with the Nebraska Department of Transportation.

“The legislature a couple of years ago implemented a bridge match program,” Dix says. “I think it was wise. There’s some state money that goes into it and some county money. It’s dedicated to solely to getting rid of structurally-deficient bridges.”

Dix says county leaders are also concerned with water quality and the availability of mental health services. The 2019 session of the Unicameral will begin January 9th.

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