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Straight Talk From Steve: Expanding CNPPID's Empire

One of the biggest problems facing states today is empire building. Empire building is the mentality of growing governmental entities without regard for the best interests of the community or the interests of private taxpaying citizens. Many managers of governmental entities and directors of state agencies view their mission in terms of expanding the reach of their organization, and that is not good when it hurts the community or affects the standard of living of their constituency. So, today I would like to expose the latest example of this kind of empire building that is affecting folks living in Western Nebraska.

The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District (CNPPID) is a political subdivision of the State of Nebraska which was created for the purpose of developing the state's irrigation and electrical power needs for those living in south-central Nebraska. However, they are also committed to building and expanding their own empire. This is clearly evident through their own vision statement which reads in part, "...by becoming a national and worldwide leader in the area of integrated water resource management." Missing from their mission and vision statements is any kind of commitment to fiscal responsibility or frugality for the taxpayers.

Recently CNPPID purchased approximately 1,050 acres of land on the south side of Lake McConaughy in Keith County for the purpose of shoreline erosion control. Purchasing this land by a political sub-division of the State means that the property will soon be taken off of the tax rolls. Whenever properties are taken off the tax rolls, it means that private landowners will have to make up the difference in lost tax revenue. In other words, those living near Lake McConaughy will soon see their property taxes go up even more. This is a problem because over the past seven years, I have received more phone calls concerning out of control property taxes from folks living at or near Lake McConaughy than anywhere else in Western Nebraska.

When asked why they purchased the land, CNPPID said it was for erosion control. CNPPID did not need to purchase this land. CNPPID had already been given the rights to perform erosion control measures along the shores of Lake McConaughy. They have had these rights ever since the reservoir was built, and they have neglected erosion control ever since. So, citing erosion control is a bogus reason for purchasing this land.

CNPPID purchased too much land. The land that CNPPID purchased may extend as far as one mile from the shoreline of Lake McConnaughy. If erosion control was, indeed, the real reason for purchasing this land, then CNPPID could have accomplished their stated goal of erosion control by negotiating with the developer to purchase enough land along the shoreline for their erosion control measures. Had they done this, some 900 acres could have remained for development.

When I spoke with CNPPID they suggested that they might sell the unused land. When was the last time CNPPID ever sold land to a private owner? When I asked who would make the decision to sell the land, the response I received was that the decision would have to be made by the board of directors. So I suggested that the board of directors sell the unused land.

It is my understanding that CNPPID hired a third-party agent to bid on the land on their behalf. Had CNPPID not outbid a private owner, the land could have been developed for private use, enhancing the economy of Keith County. Instead, CNPPID bought the land for $5 million and will take the land off the tax rolls. Part of the solution to solving these kinds of problems is the EPIC Option Consumption Tax, which would eliminate property taxes altogether. If you have not already done so, please visit our website at http://www.epicoption.org.

 

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