September 18, 2014

Expert: Gas prices may fall closer to $3/gallon in Nebraska

gas-pump-111With fall arriving next week, gasoline prices are falling in Nebraska — and one analyst says they may dip closer to $3 a gallon by the end of next month.

Gail Weinholzer, at AAA-Nebraska, says the statewide average price for a gallon of self-service unleaded gas is now $3.35, that’s down seven cents a gallon in the past month.

“Demand is dropping off now that all the kids have headed back to school,” Weinholzer says. “Our refineries are meeting demand and as a result, we have ample supply. We also have not had a significant hurricane in the Gulf Coast region to upset crude oil supply there either.”

If all continues to go smoothly, she says pump prices may drop another ten to 20 cents by the end of October, with a couple of variables.

“When we start the switch-over from the summer- to the winter-grade fuel, supplies will tighten up just a little bit, so we could see a very short-term bump in prices,” Weinholzer says. “Again, that will be very limited. Secondly, hurricane season isn’t quite over yet in the Atlantic and Gulf Coast regions.”

Nebraska’s current average gas price is two-cents below the national average. Nebraska’s most expensive gas is in Columbus at $3.44 while the cheapest gas is in Omaha and Norfolk at $3.26.


Some farmers offer crops, not cash, to charities

Wheat HarvestingAs harvest season approaches, many charitable organizations statewide are preparing to get gifts of grain from Nebraska’s farmers. Those farmers can choose to donate a portion of their stored or harvested crops and get a tax deduction at the same time.

John Syverson, a certified financial planner, says there are a number of advantages to donating crops instead of cash.

Syverson says, “Not only do you exclude from income the amount of the value of the grain, which works better on your tax return and gets you lower taxation in federal, state and self-employment taxes, but you also get to deduct the cost of production of that grain because you had to pay for the input.”

Syverson says rather than contacting the non-profit group or grain elevator directly, it’s usually more efficient to go to a local Community Foundation. He says most of them in Nebraska are set up to help make the donation a smooth transaction.

“Instead of talking to your local Boy Scout troop, I would go talk to your Community Foundation,” Syverson says. Just ask if they take gifts of grain and if they do, you can quickly set up an account and tell them where you want the grain dispersed.

More Nebraska farmers may be choosing the option this fall as many commodity prices are dropping, especially with record or near-record harvests predicted for both corn and soybeans.


Sen. Fischer: Congressional OK needed to escalate attacks on ISIL

Sen. Deb Fischer

Sen. Deb Fischer

President Obama says America will go after Islamic State militants on both sides of the Syria-Iraq border, but Nebraska U.S. Senator Deb Fischer says Congress should vote on whether the U.S. escalates its response to acts of terror by members of the Islamic State, or ISIL.

“A number of officials in the administration are saying that dealing with ISIL and destroying them, taking them out, could take three to five years,” Fischer says. “That’s an extended campaign. That, in my opinion, would require authorization by Congress.”

Senator Fischer, who sits on the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, says expanding the area of attacks also needs permission.

Fischer says, “When you look at extending the bombardment in Iraq, taking that into Syria and talking about this whole-scale elimination of ISIL, then you need to come to Congress.”

While President Obama addressed the issue last week in a nationally-broadcast speech, Fischer says the president needs to be more clear on the goals and requirements of any operation attempting to take on the Islamic State.

“The president really needs to lay out his case and he needs to do so in detail,” Fischer says. “He needs to explain this to the American people.”

Fischer says she is reflecting the strong message she is hearing from Nebraskans on any wider military operations in the Middle East.

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton


Survey: 90% of Nebraska’s job market “stable” for 4th quarter

An upbeat job market is expected in Nebraska during the final three months of the year, according to a new survey. Manpower Incorporated spokeswoman Karen Miller says an overwhelming majority of employers polled in the state were optimistic.

“We’re excited to see 21% of employers are looking to add staff for this October through December timeline with 69% looking to maintain their current workforce,” Miller says. “Really, we’re looking at about 90% stability.”

The survey found 7% of employers in Nebraska planned reductions in staff during the fourth quarter. That’s a jump up from just 2% of employers who planned cuts during the third quarter, which Miller says isn’t a big surprise.

Miller says, “Coming to the end of the year, we also have an election happening this fall, in November, so employers tend to be a little bit more conservative in Q4 than they are the other months out of the year.”

She says Nebraska’s job market is looking better than the nationwide outlook. Of the more than 18,000 employers surveyed in the U.S., Manpower found 19% expect to add to their workforces, while 7% expect a decline in their payrolls between October and December.

Radio Shack, with 30 Nebraska stores, faces bankruptcy

RSlogoAn electronics store chain that was once very popular in Nebraska may soon vanish — or at least become more scarce.

Officials at Radio Shack are talking with lenders, bond holders, shareholders and landlords as they work to fix the balance sheet.

The company may need to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization depending on the outcome of those talks.

Radio Shack has more than 30 stores in Nebraska. If the company can’t get into the black ink, it will likely file what’s called a pre-packaged bankruptcy.

The company has been cutting costs, closing stores and shuffling management, but still reported another quarterly loss on Thursday.