State senators hear many complaints about taxes, but fewer solutions
Thursday, 03 October 2013 14:48
By Willis Mahannah - Editor / No matter what type of tax they pay, most Nebraskans don’t like them and want them lowered. And none wants to pay more of them.
Those were the take-away messages Thursday afternoon when the Legislature’s Tax Modernization Committee heard from close to 35 people over three hours at the Lifelong Learning Center in Norfolk.
In the audience were about 10 residents from Cuming County, three of whom gave testimony.
Sen. Galen Hadley of Kearney, chair of the Committee, prefaced the intent of the public hearing, the third held thus far.
“It’s not a hearing to raise or lower taxes,” he said.
“And it’s not a hearing to fund one area more and one area less. We are here for input from the average citizen about property taxes, income taxes and sales taxes.”
With that, one by one, citizens stepped to the microphone to offer opinions. But few offered solutions as to how governments could fund services if taxes were cut.
Daryl Urwiler of Wisner was the first from Cuming County to address the committee. He brought perspective on property taxes from three positions: as a former public school employee, a former school board member, and current farmer and agricultural land owner.
He agreed with several of those who spoke earlier in the hearing that ag land values are rising rapidly and forcing owners of that land to pay more in property taxes. But blame for that falls on farmers, too, he said.
“One problem with real estate values is that we have neighbors competing against each other for ground and driving prices up, which raises everybody’s valuation,” he said.
He said that those higher values give local governments the opportunity to lower tax levies, however, his time serving on the local board of education taught him that some costs are out of the board’s control.
“I got on the board because I was interested in learning more,” he said. “I found out that a lot of money got spent because you have to spend it,” adding that the state needs to change some things to make it easier for local boards to control their costs.
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