by Coby Mach, President & CEO, Lincoln Independent Business Association 402.466.3419
You may recall that the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners shored up gaps in its budget by shifting their taxing authority away from the Railroad Transportation Safety District (RTSD). This was the County Commissioners tax levy authority to begin with, and was lent to the RTSD for the past decades of funding. The Commissioners chose to take back some of that taxing authority rather than implementing a property tax increase this past year.
In recent weeks, this shift has concerned folks at the city level and the Mayor sent the Commissioners a letter with possible changes and ideas for funding the RTSD.
LIBA is expressing disappointment in the new ideas that are being suggested.
The mayor’s proposed alternatives for changing the structure and taxing authority of the RTSD effectively eliminates the County Board’s authority. Three of the four suggestions in the letter are likely to result in the citizens of Lincoln paying higher taxes. The fourth idea completely ignores the interests of residents of Lancaster County who reside outside the city of Lincoln.
The greatest concern to LIBA is the suggestion to create a new JPA. A JPA is formed when two government bodies join forces to use tax dollars to fund a project. LIBA is alarmed that whenever funds are short, a JPA is proposed to solve the problem. Lincoln has a JPA that is funding the new jail and the new arena. However, LIBA is opposed to creating a JPA to fund the RTSD.
The RTSD should remain as is, with its taxing authority controlled by the County Board.
The RTSD has an important role in maintaining the security of the citizens of Lancaster County. Several important rail safely projects can and will arise in the future and the RTSD should be in place to plan, fund, and coordinate these projects. The Mayor’s office, acting in the public interest, should be willing to set aside any differences with the county board and work cooperatively to efficiently use the precious tax dollars being collected by the RTSD.
Finally, we are moving the LIBA luncheons. If you have considered joining LIBA, but could not attend the Tuesday luncheons, we are going to move them to the third Monday of every month. We average 180 business and community leaders who attend every month. We would like you to be one of them. For more information on joining LIBA, please call me at 402-466-3419. Thank you and Happy New Year!
LIBA studies and promotes these types of issues that are important to businesses and our community. If you have an interest in joining LIBA, please call me at 466-3419. LIBA membership is not restricted to just businesses. We also have “individual” memberships for those who want to help influence our local government decisions.
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