The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher, Sun-Telegraph 

1/2 Cent Sales Tax To Be Decided by Voters

 


Sidney voters will get to decide in November whether to continue a ½ cent sales tax, a “Local Option Sales Tax Proposal.”

The Sidney City Council held a public hearing July 12 prior to approving the measure. As written, the ballot question asks whether or not to continue the tax that increases city taxes from 1.5 percent to 2 percent for an additional 10 years. The current ½ percent sales tax expires in 2023.

As presented in the public hearing, 50 percent of the funding would go towards street improvements, estimated to generate an average of $425,000 annually or about $4.25 million over 10 years, 25 percent of the funding would go to the Aquatic Center for infrastructure improvements. Possible projects include paving the parking lot and connecting the walking trail to the swimming pool. The 25 percent is expected to generate an average of $212,500 annually or $2.12 million over 10 years. Hillside Golf Course would benefit from 5 percent of the proceeds, expected to average $42,500 annually or $425,000 over 10 years.

If approved, the City will commit 10 percent to storm water mitigation projects, working through an inter-local government agreement with the South Platte Natural Resources District to assist flood prone areas in Sidney, estimated to generate $85,000 annually or $850,000 over 10 years. The Parks will also benefit from 10 percent of the revenue for infrastructure improvements including parking pavement, lighting, trails, and restroom facilities.

Renewal of the ½ cent sales tax will also continue to eliminate the previous 1 percent occupation tax on restaurants in the city of Sidney that was previously used to fund streets.

The proposal will be on the Nov. 1 General Election ballot for Sidney voters as “Shall the City of Sidney renew a one-half percent local option sales and use tax to fund local public infrastructure projects for ten (10) years.”

“It's not a new tax,” Sidney Mayor Roger Gallaway said.

City Manager David Scott said the City has saved costs by using funds from the current ½ percent sales tax.

Chamber of Commerce Still Seeking Staff

The council also received the Cheyenne County Chamber of Commerce quarterly report. Board President Regina Narges represented the Chamber at the council meeting. Narjes said the Chamber is still seeking a new President/CEO since the resignation of McKailie Carnahan-Kuhns and administrative assistant Symphony Sundling in May.

“We have not had as many applicants as before (after the resignation of Hope Feeney), so it has been more difficult,” she said.

Narjes said board members are helping until a new president is hired.

Applications are available through InDeed.

She said the Girls Day Out “was highly successful,” with breakfast at the Elks Lodge starting the event.

The Chamber is moving closer to the “Chamber Bucks” an electronic transaction. The use of a gift card was presented early this year instead of a physical check. The Chamber anticipates the gift cards will offer participating the businesses the opportunity to track their business through the Chamber gift card. The gift card can be used as most any debit card when presented to any participating Cheyenne County business. Narjes told the council the Chamber is at the stage of collecting Chamber Bucks checks previously issued.

The Chamber also continues to fine-tune its website.

The council then reviewed the contract between the City and Chamber. The City contracts with the Chamber for services including recruiting new businesses, assist existing businesses, market available commercial properties, providing newcomer packets and relocation materials, as well as tours for potential employees from requesting companies. The agreement comes at a cost of $25,000 to the City.

City Manager David Scott said the changes to the contract “are very minimal.”

 

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