Lincoln County taxing entities hold public hearing at North Platte Community College

Lincoln County Taxing entities hold public hearing at North Platte Community College
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 10:21 AM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Beginning last year, cities, counties, school districts and community colleges in Nebraska were required to directly notify taxpayers prior to seeking a major property tax increase, following the passage of LB644 in the Nebraska Legislature.

The previously mentioned subdivisions are required to mail notices with information about proposed tax increases as well as hold public hearings for taxpayers to attend and express their concerns. The second event of its kind was held in North Platte on Wednesday evening at North Platte Community College.

Concerned North Platte resident Patrick Meritt said during the hearing it’s beginning to become unaffordable to live in this part of the state.

“We have farmers and ranchers and certainly they have a huge impact in this part of the country, but, in the City of North Platte, it’s small business owners that are the backbone. They are being driven out, they can’t afford property taxes, leases, and rates, and guess what? I can’t go shop there like I used to because my money is going into a bottomless pit called taxes and evaluations. I can’t keep doing this and we can’t keep paying this. My wife and I have had to become more frugal, I would suggest you as the representatives here from different parts of government and community become more frugal,” Meritt said.

Representation from Lincoln County, North Platte Public Schools, Mid-Plains Community College, and, Sutherland Public Schools were represented Wednesday evening, however, the only entity required by law to be in attendance was Sutherland Public Schools due to the amount they’re requesting increases over the threshold. Previously, North Platte Public Schools and Lincoln County had been advertised as participants, however after lowering their request they were no longer mandated to be present. Sutherland Public Schools Superintendent, Steve Bristol, said new HVAC and playground equipment are the primary reasons for an increase in their request.

“We’ve looked at our playground which is over 27-years-old and we had an insurance company tell us it needs replaced. We took that information to our board and we thought if someone got hurt, we’d more than likely be liable,” said Bristol. Sutherland Public Schools began taking a deeper dive into their budget with a workshop this past Monday.

Dozens of individuals attended the event and although it was not required, Lincoln County and the North Platte School District did give brief presentations. North Platte Public Schools will hold a public hearing of their own related to the budget on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the McKinley Education Center. News 2 will be in attendance.