LINCOLN, NEB. – A coalition of taxpayer interests that united last fall to oppose a $369 million Southeast Community College (SCC) Bond measure is calling on SCC’s Board of Governors to listen to taxpayers and reconsider recent board action to raise property taxes. The SCC board voted unanimously Sept. 19, to raise SCC’s tax levy to two-cents per $100 of valuation for building construction. The adjustment is estimated to increase SCC’s property tax collections by 26 percent for the 2017-18 school year.
“Last fall, taxpayers across the 15-county SCC area overwhelmingly voted down SCC’s $369 million bond proposal. In the process, they sent a strong message that now was not the time for major property tax increases. Despite the fact the bond measure failed by two-thirds majority vote, SCC’s Board of Governors have chosen to increase SCC’s building construction levy to the maximum allowed by state law. The decision to take the maximum levy at a time when taxpayers are asking for relief shows a lack of regard for the will of the people and the vote taken last fall,” said Roy Christensen, Lincoln City Council member.
In a letter to the SCC Board of Governors, partners who formed the Vote No 369 coalition urged action to immediately reconvene and reconsider the proposed tax increase. The SCC board has the ability to reconsider the vote through Oct.13.
“Our partners have received numerous calls and complaints from taxpayers across the SCC area. Rightfully, they are questioning how the SCC board could ignore the wishes of taxpayers who clearly indicated they wanted SCC to demonstrate restraint when it comes to tax collections in the face of the overwhelming defeat of the bond measure,” said Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president.
The coalition warned voters last fall of the risk of passing the $369 million bond, noting that SCC could still increase property taxes even more than the increases presented by the bond, by increasing to the maximum levy for building construction.
“Clearly our coalition’s concerns about additional exposure for taxpayers was warranted. While we understand and appreciate the important role of community colleges, we respectfully request the SCC board consider the will of the voters and the increased tax burden the board’s action will place on those who bear the costs of funding SCC by rolling back this levy increase,” said State Senator Dan Watermeier of Syracuse.
The letter to the SCC board was signed by former Governor Dave Heineman, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, Nebraska Cattlemen President Troy Stowater, Dennis Fujan of the Nebraska Soybean Association, Lincoln Independent Business Association President Coby Mach, State Sen. Curt Friesen of Henderson, State Sen. Dan Watermeier of Syracuse, State Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete, former State Sen. Jerry Johnson of Wahoo, and Lincoln City Council member Roy Christensen.