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LIBA Positions and Comment on FY2013-2014 Lancaster County Budget

The Lincoln Independent Business Association is pleased the County Board of Commissioners has dedicated itself to holding the line on property taxes.

The county has demonstrated a commitment to keeping taxes low through continually seeking efficiencies such as privatizing services and working to sell unneeded county property.  Further, LIBA is gratified to see the county pursuing many cost saving measures previously suggested by LIBA such as seeking efficiencies through interlocal agreements, moving toward a 100 percent retirement match and increasing hours required to qualify for benefits.

In the future, Lancaster County should endeavor to control costs through strict monitoring of benefits.  According to the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, state and local government benefits average 35.2 percent of compensation and in private industry benefits average only 29.7 percent of compensation.[i] Currently, in some Lancaster County departments, benefits average as much as 45 percent of compensation.[ii] This ratio is unsustainable and must be addressed.

Previously, LIBA and Lancaster County worked together to provide flexibility in county retirement benefits.  Through a joint effort the necessary legislation was adopted, implemented, and is now easing the tax burden on county taxpayers. As we look to the future, LIBA aims to continue this beneficial relationship and work with the county to advocate for legislative change before the tax modernization committee and throughout the next legislative session.  LIBA supports the county’s efforts to promote a balanced county revenue system. In the past, counties funded operations through a balance of property tax, state aid to counties, programs such as state prisoner reimbursement and more. However, in recent years, the state has defunded programs forcing the county to absorb millions in expenditures for state mandated programs without any corresponding increase in resources.  Lancaster County alone incurs up to $3 million in unreimbursed mandates per year.[iii]  LIBA aims to work with Lancaster County to advocate for tax equity through reconsideration of unfunded mandates and funding state prisoner reimbursement programs.

Thank you to our county commissioners and their staff for their dedication to serving the people of Lancaster County and commitment to preventing a tax increase.

[i] Employer Costs for Employee Compensation news release text,  United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics; 12 June 2013; http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecec.nr0.htm

[ii] 2013-2014 Proposed Budget; Lancaster County Budget and Fiscal Office; Lancaster County;  http://lancaster.ne.gov/budget/index.htm

[iii] Lancaster County Legislative Proposals; County Legislative Retreat; 8 August 2013