Facts and Figures Regarding Sales Tax issue.
NEEDS - 1) Street Improvement, 2) Swimming Pool, 3) Golf Course irrigation improvements, 4) Storm Water Drainage structures and 5) Park improvements ALL must be addressed by the City of Sidney in the near future. The City is faced with paying for these improvements in either of two ways A) adoption of a local one-half percent sales tax for infrastructure improvements or B) increase property tax rates.
The City is currently 34 percent below the state property tax lid, so it can increase the property tax levy. The additional half cent sales tax is estimated to generate $1 million a year, which would go a long ways towards addressing the current needs. If that same $1 million needs to be raised by property taxes, and using the current city wide valuation as a basis, the property tax levy would need to go up 25 cents per $100 of value. The current general fund levy is approximately 33 cents, and with current bonded indebtedness is 41 cents total, so adding another 25 cents would be a significant increase in property taxes.
The City Council has given the public the choice to pay for the needed improvements through a sales tax, rather than raise property taxes, so it authorized placement of the issue on the November general election ballot. The ability to do this was authorized by the 2012 Nebraska Legislature. Now it’s OUR CHOICE.
1) STREETS - It is estimated Sidney needs to spend $10 million to $12 million in needed street improvements on existing arterial (heavy traffic) streets. In addition there are the issues of ongoing maintenance of roads in residential areas and cost share programs with U.S. 30, Link Road 17-J, Fort Sidney Road, 10th Avenue, Toledo Street extension, Greenwood Road improvement and others. The sales tax would raise a minimum of $5 million for the street improvements over the next 10 years. Other street funds currently generate about $750,000 annually for these purposes. The sales tax would allow the City to accelerate its street improvement efforts by 66 percent annually.
2) SWIMMING POOL - The 37-year old swimming pool has reached its life expectancy and must be replaced. A study will look at various options of developing a multi-use aquatics center, indoor or outdoor, or combination facility. The City must start planning financially now. The sales tax vote would allocate $3 million towards the eventual new construction. Sidney currently has one of the oldest active municipal swimming pool among the 30 first class cities (over 5,000 population) in Nebraska.
3) GOLF COURSE - A Master Plan for the golf course future has been developed. The irrigation system, pumping equipment and reservoir are badly in need of replacement. Several thousand dollars are spent each year in repairs. The sales tax issue would raise $1.2 million for the new irrigation system, which would pay for the bulk of the needed costs. The golf course is a significant attraction for residents, businesses and travelers.
4) STORM WATER DRAINAGE - The City and the South Platte Natural Resources District have entered into an inter-local governmental agreement to address the flood prone areas in east Sidney. This is the area that runs from the I-80 development to U.S. 30 and from the Fort Sidney Road to the four lane L-17 J (385). This is the natural growth area for Sidney, yet current and future developments are impeded by storm water drainage issues that must be addressed. The sales tax vote would allocate $500,000 to the projects.
5) PARK IMPROVEMENTS - Additional restroom and lighting facilities are needed at the ball fields and soccer fields. The sales tax vote would allocate $300,000 for those improvements.
WHY SALES TAX?
* It is projected that more than half of all local sales are estimated to be generated by people who are NOT residents of Sidney. The community is an Interstate community that attracts travelers off I-80, U.S. 385, Highway 19 and U.S. 30. With the presence of Cabela’s retail, Wal-Mart, numerous restaurants, services and motels, Sidney is a destination area for travelers. With 550 motel rooms present at Sidney, many out of town residents spend money in the community. Approximately 40 percent of our work force commutes to Sidney. Travelers, guests and workers depend on the City to provide many services, including law enforcement, fire protection and emergency services. A sales tax helps share the costs of providing those services to all of those using and needing the amenities, not just burdening local residents and businesses with the entire cost.
* It is arguably the fairest form of taxation as it impacts all citizens by their ability to purchase items.
* The vote will also eliminate a 1 percent restaurant occupation tax, so even with the additional one-half percent sales tax, all restaurant purchases will see a one-half percent reduction in price if the issue is adopted by the voters.
* As Sidney continues to grow and add more business opportunities, the sales tax will continue to generate more revenue, thus providing even more revenue needed for improvements throughout the 10 years the tax is in effect.
* The infrastructure improvements (streets, swimming pool, golf course, storm water drainage and park’s needs) must be paid for through either this proposed sales tax or through increased property tax.