Nebraska Farm Bureau members used National Ag Day to lobby state senators over property tax relief. They say the issue is tied to public education funding, and both need to be reformed.
Farm Bureau member Jeff Metz is a rancher and commissioner in Morrill County. He says rural school districts that do not receive equalization aid from the state are hurting.
“This puts the property taxpayers for the schools and that’s not right, because the sales and income tax dollars people pay in the district are subsidizing schools that get state equalization aid,” Metz said at a news conference outside the Capitol Tuesday. “There’s something wrong with this picture.”
Metz says he knows a few farmers and ranchers who are looking to get out of the business, because they cannot afford their property taxes.
“As a county commissioner, I’ve been involved in several property valuation hearings and they’ve said just this thing, ‘We can’t pay our property taxes. What do we do?’” Metz said. “And it’s not just the farmers and ranchers. Residential, commercial – it’s all the same. We’re paying too much.”
Farm Bureau member Jerry Stahr, who farms in York County, says schools are too dependent on property taxes, and that’s hurting all landowners and many districts.
“The problem of the property tax differences in our districts as well as the state aid formula, basically gives you money for being inefficient,” Stahr said at the news conference. “If you bump up against your levy, they shower more money upon you. If you’re efficient, it goes the other way. They take away state aid.”
He says the schools that have lost equalization aid funding are rural, and that money should be divided equally across the state.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:40]