PD Guides

NRD Taxing Authority

ISSUE

Since the Legislature adjourned, there have been conversations in the state Capitol about changing the way Natural Resource Districts (NRD) are funded. In the last session, the Legislature changed the primary source of funding for community colleges from property taxes to state funding. Now, some elected leaders are considering doing the same for NRDs.


BACKGROUND

Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts were established in 1972 as local government units with broad responsibilities to protect the state’s natural resources. Major Nebraska river basins form the boundaries, enabling districts to respond best to local needs. Elected boards of directors govern districts and much of the funding comes from local property taxes. NRDs are limited to a 4 ½ cent levy per $100 of taxable valuation. In certain instances, NRDs have the authority to levy an additional 4 cents for groundwater management activities and integrated management activities under the Nebraska Ground Water Management and Protection Act.


FARM BUREAU POLICY

NRD RESPONSIBILITIES (2023). We support retaining the NRDs and the powers granted therein for local elected board members to manage and conserve the natural resources of their respective districts. We also believe that responsibility for regulation should be kept as close as possible to the affected area. We oppose merging NRDs.

We are opposed to any blanket statutory mill levy increase for these districts without a vote of the people. However, we are not opposed to providing NRDs located in areas determined by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to be fully or over-appropriated with a limited, specific, targeted levy authority to implement IMPs in these areas. We are opposed to granting NRDs bond authority for funding of storm water control, recreation areas, or private development projects. In the event that bond use by NRDs is approved by the Legislature, we propose that those bonds would be subject to tax because they would enhance a private activity.


QUESTIONS
  • Should NRDs be funded all or in part by state revenues?
  • Can we ensure that NRDs will retain their local governance if funding is coming from the state?
  • Should reductions in property taxes to NRDs be via tax credits for property taxes paid or an elimination of NRDs levy authority?

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