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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher, Sun-Telegraph 

Public Confronts Commissioners on Proposed Budget

 

September 15, 2022 | View PDF



The Cheyenne County Commissioners room was crowded Sept. 6 with residents seeking answers about the proposed budget.

Tuesday's meeting included a budget hearing and summary for the 2022-2023 fiscal year.

Early in the meeting, the county commissioners appointed Jeff Jung as the Cheyenne County designee to attend the Joint Public Meeting scheduled for September 26. The Joint Public Meeting is required by LB644. Sections 1 through 5 of LB644 are also known as the “Property Tax Request Act” requires any taxing authority expecting to experience a valuation or budget increase of 2 percent plus the authority's “real growth percentage,” defined as “the percentage obtained by dividing the political subdivision's real growth value (The increase in a political subdivision's real property valuation from the prior year to the current year due to improvements to real property as a result of new construction and additions to existing buildings, any other improvements to real property which increase the value of such property, annexation of real property by the political subdivision, and a change in the use of real property, and the annual increase in the excess value for any tax increment financing project located in the political subdivision. (from Legislative Bill 644 Final Reading)”

In the September 6 meeting of the county commissioners, the commissioners were asked about how the budget works, why the county is proposing a budget increase while people are struggling. One person in attendance said Cheyenne County is reported to be sixth in the state in taxes. The commissioners were told the county should be working to lower taxes.

County Commissioner Randy Miller stressed that property owners tax burden is more than what the county requests. Property owners also need to consider the other taxing authorities that make up the total mill levy.

What we are in charge of,” Miller said, “is the county budget.”

He said Cheyenne County's portion of the total tax bill is about 16 percent. The remainder of the mill levy is set by the city or village, the school district, college, and other taxing districts in Cheyenne County.

The commissioners were asked if the county can freeze the budget so people can recover from COVID, inflation.

“People can't afford it,” the commissioners were told.

Miller said this is the first time since he has been in office the county has to raise the mill levy. He said the proposed increase is because of fuel costs and health care costs. He said the county employees agreed to share some of the cost of health insurance; without the employees' support, the county budget would have been strapped even more, according to the commissioners.

Commissioner Phil Sanders said the mill levy has improved during his time in office.

“I've been here eight years,” he said. “We were almost to the lid (.50). We try to do everything we can to be fair, but sometimes we can't,” he said.

He added sometimes the county is bound by obligations to the state.

A joint meeting of tax districts in Cheyenne County is scheduled for September 26 as required by LB644.

 

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