Dawson County tax levy to go up a half cent to account for flood damage

Damage from flooding in March and July have contributed to the county’s tax levy increasing.

LEXINGTON — The Dawson County tax levy is being increased to account for the flood damage in July, necessary repairs and other road improvements.

The tax levy will go up a half cent, said Dawson County Commissioner Chairman Bill Stewart. The levy will be .295 per $100, versus last year’s levy of .291.

Stewart said the main cost and reason for the increase was the flooding damage done across the county in both March and July. Other road improvements throughout the area also contributed to the increase.

The total from personal and real property taxes is $10,250,827.91.

Commissioner Dennis Rickertsen said, “We are lucky to stay this close, given everything which has happened.”

“We are towing the line the best we can with what we have,” said Commissioner P.J. Jacobson.

The commissioners voted to approve the budget, and a new resolution which concerned a formal property tax request.

During the board of equalization meeting, there were protests by three entities, Cozad Child Care, Church Assembly of God Philadelphia and the Housing Authority of the City of Gothenburg related to permissive exemptions which were denied.

In July, the commissioners approved a motion to deny all permissive exemptions which were turned in late, these properties were then added back to the tax roll. The State of Nebraska had given a “hard order,” to deny all the exemptions, according to former County Attorney Jared Dean.

The commissioners heard all the protests before making a decision.

Claire Bazata, representing Cozad Child Care, formally protested the valuation of the location, she said they are eligible for exemption and requested the valuation be made zero.

“It would be an undue hardship to pay these taxes,” Bazata said. Cozad Childcare has been a non-profit since the late 1990s.

County Assessor John Moore said Cozad Child Care had missed the deadline, and the state made the county’s decision clear. He also said these entities could make an appeal in writing.

Bazata said they did not get any forms in the mail, so they did not return one. “I don’t recall anything about giving anything in writing,” she said.

Asambleas De Dios Filadelifa, Church of God Philadelphia, also submitted their formal protest, church members said they had submitted their exemption form in December 2018.

Patricia Hosick represented the Housing Authority of Gothenburg, she said they had been a non-profit since 1994 and never received a form.

Moore interjected at this point and said this was a mistake made by the state and the Housing Authority never should have been included in this list due to their status. Their situation had been taken care of, Moore said.

Chairman Stewart said the commissioners would consult their legal counsel before making their decision.

During the regular meeting Brandon Kjar, who provides facility maintenance for the county, presented a jail door lock maintenance quote.

Chairman Stewart said Kjar had originally brought the quote to him, but felt the money requested was large enough to consult all the commissioners.

Kjar said the jail doors have gone without major maintenance since the jail was build 26 years ago. Now some of the jail locks are in need of repair. All of the jail doors are run from a master control area, but three currently won’t open from master control and have to be unlocked locally.

The building was built in 1993 and had been used 24 hours a day since its inception, Chairman Stewart noted.

Southern Folger Detention Equipment of San Antonio, Texas provided a quote of $11,528.00 to fix and maintain all of the jail locks. The repair crew would come from Kansas City, Kjar noted.

Sheriff Ken Moody asked if there would be a possibility of Southern Folger entering into a contract to periodically maintain the jail locks.

The commissioners gave Kjar the go ahead to get the repairs done.

Sheriff Moody presented the monthly crime report and noted the average population of the jail was 98.5, and there were 110 inmates held in the jail on Monday morning.

He said calls for service were around their normal average and revenue is up this past month.

Moody said the new vehicles for the sheriff’s department are built, but are still in Chicago, he thought they may be delivered in a month.

Treasurer Vicki Clements brought a resolution to strike delinquent personal property taxes for two properties which had been destroyed by fire. The commissioners approved their removal.

The commissioners also approved for Clements to begin tax sale of four properties which were listed as delinquent.

During the committee reports, Commissioner Butch Hagan said the last race of the season was held at Dawson County Raceway. Attendance this year has been so high, the Fair Board is considering bleacher seating. Hagan said Chad Dolan will manage the races next year as well.

Clements said the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles is rolling out a website overhaul, and employees will have to complete three days of training related to the overhaul.

Commissioner Rickertsen said Two Rivers Health Department is looking for a new board member, due to a current member moving out the area. Anyone interested should contact Rickertsen.

Two Rivers is also considering moving their offices from Holdrege, the geographic center of their coverage area, to either Lexington or Kearney, which is closer to the population centers they serve.

No decision on a new space has been made yet and they are currently looking into their options, Rickertsen said.

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