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Pool costs spike city spending
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Pool costs spike city spending

pool work

Work continues on Tekamah's new municipal swimming pool. The facility is expected to be open next summer, but costs associated with the job are driving an increase in property taxes for city residents.

Paying for the new facility drives a 19 percent increase in property tax

A six-cent increase in the tax rate multiplied by an eight percent increase in property valuations equals a bigger dent in the wallets of Tekamah taxpayers.

Tekamah City Council on Thursday passed the budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The city will ask its patrons for $602,313 in property taxes to fund a $7,796,896 budget.

Passing the budget followed separate, if brief, public hearings for the budget itself and the tax rate. No one from the public attended either hearing.

Property taxes are figured by taking one percent of a property’s value and multiplying it by the total tax rate. Tekamah residents can be taxed by the city, Burt County, the Tekamah-Herman school district, Educational Service Unit No. 2, and the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District, among others.

A year ago, the city’s portion of the property tax bill for the owner of $100,000 worth of property was $608.91. With the eight percent valuation increase, that $100,000 property is now worth, on the average, $108,000. The valuation increase and the increase in the tax rate now push the tax bill on the same property to $722.51.

The tax asking is up nearly 20 percent from the $506,953 sought a year ago. The total spending, up nearly $5 million, more than doubles the $2.87 million the city expects to spend when the current fiscal year closes at the end of the month.

Nearly all of the increase can be attributed to the cost of building a new swimming pool, the city’s accountant, Ric Ortmeier, said Thursday night.

The budget also benefits from an eight percent increase in taxable valuation. The city’s official valuation as calculated by the county assessor’s office stands at $90,032,457, a $6.77 million increase from the $83,256,275 used to calculate the current budget.

Of the $602,000 sought in property tax, just over $405,000 will be used to pay for city services. The other $197,000 is earmarked to pay bonded debt, such as the pool construction, the West P Street project and last year’s renovations at City Auditorium.

A lot of the spending increase can be attributed to the pool project, but not all of it.

The line item in the budget that houses the pool shows a $3.94 million increase.

Most other city departments also show incremental increases.

The general government line shows a $230,000 increase, which includes a $110,000 hike in capital improvements. The police budget is up about $70,000.

The street department shows the biggest increase. It goes from $427,797 this year to $810,100 for the coming year, an increase of roughly $382,000. Budget documents show $225,000 tabbed for street improvement projects. Some of that work is expected to be outlined in a prioritized project list being developed by the city’s engineering firm. That report is expected to be unveiled later this fall.

In other business during its brief meeting Sept. 9, the council:

—Invoked the emergency clause to approve two new ordinances on the first reading of each.

The first, Ordinance 1317, approves a new wellhead protection plan which is designed to protect the city’s public water system. The plan has been under development for several months and incorporates input from several sources, including public comment.

The other measure, Ordinance 1318, is more recent. It allows, as a conditional use, recreational vehicle parks in residential zones inside the city.

The ordinance was drafted after Sam Titus approached the city a few weeks ago asking for a zoning change for property he recently purchased on the west edge of the city. Tekamah Planning Commission and the city council both thought that it would more appropriate to allow RV parks as a conditional use than to change the zoning of the area in question.

Later in the evening, following another public hearing, the council approved Titus’ request for a conditional use permit for the RV park he is working to build at the site along Highway 32.

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