Governor discusses property tax and revenue shortfall during Scottsbluff town hall

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SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. Governor Pete Ricketts along with Senator John Stinner visited with Scottsbluff residents Tuesday to hear concerns during a town hall meeting at the Harms Center in Scottsbluff. Governor Pete Ricketts said the number one issue during his visits to various town halls is property tax relief.

Governor Pete Ricketts during the Scottsbluff town hall session at WNCC's Harms Center

The Governor says he is looking for additional ideas for property tax before the next session. Revenues came in 95 million dollars or 2.2 percent below forecast for the fiscal year which ended June 30th.

“July wasn’t any better, so we’re going to have to keep an eye on that and look at how the tax relief and everything else we want to
accomplish fits into the overall budget,” said Ricketts.

Last year the property tax credit relief fund increased over 45%.

According to Ricketts, “It’s one of the things we’ll continue to look at going forward is how we can get that tax relief, but again it’s going to have to be part of an overall package that fits in with our budget”

The governor says cutting the growth of government has helped with property tax.

“This budget cycle we’ve done a great job with that, we cut the growth of government nearly in half from 6.5 percent growth in the previous budget to 3.6 percent in this budget. That’s how we’re able to increase the property tax credit relief fund. That’s the same way we’re going to have to look into tax relief going forward,” said Ricketts.

Ricketts says controlling expenses is key to being able to assist with property tax relief.

“The only way we can have sustainable property tax relief or any sort of tax relief is by controlling expenses and allowing your revenues to grow faster than your expenses so we’re going to be looking at that, obviously we got some challenges right now with revenues,” says Ricketts.

Senator John Stinner commented briefly on the budget saying, “We’re going to have to really take a hard look at each one of these categories and re prioritize, so that’s our challenge, that’s a positive thing. I think anytime that you’ve been in business, even in your own life, every once in a while you got to cut back.”

Although revenues came in 95 million dollars below, Ricketts says there is no need for a special budget session because unlike previous years, this fiscal year the state is sitting on a healthy cash reserve.