LENRD budget reflects flood reduction projects and lower property valuations

The fiscal year 2020 budget for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) calls for a slight increase in the property tax levy.

LENRD General Manger, Mike Sousek, said, “Last year the tax levy was the lowest it had been in 45 years.  The slight increase is the result of flood reduction projects stemming from the March floods as well as the lower property valuations across the district.”

After months of discussions, the operating budget was approved by the LENRD board of directors at their September 12th meeting with a tax request of $4,332,004, an increase of $59,276 from last year or a 1.4% increase.  The overall operating expenditures show a 38% increase of $2,923,383 from last year.

Sousek, said, “For the past 7 years there has been a decrease in property tax asking, reaching a historic low in 2018.  It’s becoming more and more difficult to continue decreasing the tax levy year after year.  With the 1.4% increase this year, we are expanding our public awareness of our 12 responsibilities and have more projects and programs on the table to meet the challenges of natural resources management.”

The estimated levy, based on the property tax request, is 2.370 cents per $100 of valuation, which is a slight increase from the fiscal year 2019 levy of 2.314 cents per $100 of valuation.  For example, if a person owns a $300,000 house, the taxes owed to the LENRD would have been $69.42 in 2019 and will be approximately $71.10 in 2020.

Sousek, added, “We continue to maximize the use of our local funds, by bringing in grant money to subsidize our projects.  The funds received by the LENRD are returned to the citizens of the district, through projects, programs, and studies across all or parts of 15-counties in northeast Nebraska.”

Some of the major expenditures for FY 2020 include:  Levee and Flood Protection Projects - $1,858,150; Water Resources Programs - $622,000; Project Construction (including flood related repairs) - $983,000; and Conservation Cost-Share programs, including the Bazile Groundwater Management Area Project and Willow Creek Best Management Practices - $696,500.

Other area conservation benefits include:  water quality and quantity programs such as groundwater management, flood control, and nitrate management; as well as erosion control, cost-share to landowners who apply for conservation practices, recreation areas and trails, urban recreation and community forestry programs, and many other benefits that protect our natural resources.