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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

City Facing Big Tax Bill


January 20, 2021 | View PDF

The Nebraska Department of Revenue (DOR) has approved a sales tax refund claim that will impact the City of Sidney by about $275,000.

In the Jan. 12 meeting of the Sidney City Council, City Manager David Scott presented a letter from the DOR regarding a request for sales tax refund from Sidney businesses.

“It is a big hit,” Scott said. “We're going to lose a lot of money.”

The bill comes to the amount of $275.177.84. The City has the option of allowing the DOR to deduct the full amount in one month, or over 12 equal monthly installments. The letter dated Dec. 27 had to be returned by Jan. 4. Scott signed the letter requesting the DOR deduct the refund in 12 monthly installments.

Scott said in the council meeting, the DOR allows for a City representative to be appointed. That person has limited discretion in the review process.

“Al they'll let you do is appoint a representative to review the documents; 'yes, we owe it,' or 'no we don't,'” he said.

He said after the review process, the representative cannot discuss what was in the documents.

The council appointed Scott to be the City's representative to the DOR.

The council also received an update from Wendall Gaston, local representative of the Nebraska Community Foundation. Gaston represents the City of Sidney Community Donor Advised Fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation.

On Jan. 12, Gaston delivered the news that the Foundation is covering the remainder of the cost of the new fire truck recently approved by the city council. Gaston said because of the reputation of the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department and the city council, the Foundation decided to fund the remaining $43,436.35 of the truck purchase. The fire department committed $450,000 of the $493,436.35 purchase price from the department's equipment reserve fund. The City had planned to transfer the balance of the purchase price.

Gaston said funding the remainder of the fire truck is the second Sidney project for the Foundation. The first project was $1.2 million for the LB840 fund.

“We are working on a third project,” Gaston said.

The third project is $10,000 in funding for a housing project.

The council also approved the purchase of a new solid waste side-load refuse truck.

Solid Waste Superintendent Dean Sterling said in a memo $210,000 was approved for purchase of a new truck. He said bids were sent to four companies and two were returned. Both bids were lower than budgeted.

However, after further discussion, Sterling said the Land Fill staff is favoring a bigger engine. The advantage is the bigger engine is more efficient and requires less maintenance because it is not worked as hard, and it is a “wet engine,” meaning it can be repaired. The DD8, the less expensive model, is a “dry engine.”

Sterling said dry engines cannot be repaired, only replaced. The disadvantage is the bigger engine truck is about $16,000 over budget.

After discussing the bidding process, the council approved purchasing the freightliner truck with the DD13 engine.

The council also approved the City's one-and six-year Street Improvement Plan. Street Superintendent Hank Radke said the plan is an annual requirement tied to state funding for road projects. The City's six-year-plan includes 13th Avenue from the Burlington Northern Railroad north to Illinois Street at an estimated cost of $3.8 million, and Elm Street from 13th Avenue to 17th Avenue at an estimated $400,000.

The state project of the 17J Link will also take place with the City's 20 percent of the cost coming in at an estimated $2.5 million. Scott said the first meeting on the project is expected in April or May of this year.

Shannon Smelley, Jennifer Ramsey and Jane Holechek were added to the Library Board, and Randy Hobson was reappointed to the Board of Adjustment.


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