County leaders from across the state are in Kearney this week for workshops through the Nebraska Association of County Officials.
The group’s executive director, Larry Dix, says they focus on many of the same issues every year, which is a big help to newly-elected county officials and it’s a refresher for veterans.
Topics will include roads, economic development, labor issues and taxes, like the Tax Equalization Review Commission.
Dix says a big cut in federal bridge funding has been a surprise for many county leaders.
“Really, just in the last few days, we’ve been hearing more about what they’re going to do at the federal level as far as the bridge program,” Dix says. “Some of those sound pretty dire, eliminating a lot of the federal aid that flows down to counties for bridge repair. We’re very concerned about that.”
Governor Dave Heineman has asked the legislature to drop the inheritance tax, which all goes to counties, as part of his tax-cutting package. Dix says that is a prime concern for counties right now.
“We endured a significant amount of cuts last year when we lost all state aid to counties, cities and NRDs, and then to have this on the heel of that, it’s insurmountable to try to comprehend that you could absorb that into existing budgets without raising property taxes,” Dix says. “There just isn’t any way to do it.”
The workshop runs through Friday in Kearney.
Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton