With recent budget vote, projected tax cuts flip to small increases

Slight projected property tax cuts have flipped to small tax increases for three North Platte homes after budget votes by the city’s three largest tax consumers.

The latest update to The Telegraph’s tax tracker for the 2019-20 “budget season” factors in tax requests by the city of North Platte, Lincoln County and the North Platte Public Schools.

Budget votes by four more local governments serving city property owners lie ahead after the City Council’s vote last Thursday and Monday’s votes by county commissioners and the North Platte school board.

Those three accounted for more than 90% of city residents’ 2018 property tax bills — making it unlikely the remaining budget votes will dramatically raise or lower final 2019 bills.

With just over a week left before the state’s Sept. 20 budget deadline, here’s the tax picture for The Telegraph’s three sample homes:

» The owners of Home 1, a two-story, three-bedroom home with a full basement north of the Union Pacific tracks, would pay just over $2,287. That’s $18.31 more than the home’s 2018 tax bill.

» Home 2, a one-story, two-bedroom home west of Westfield Shopping Center, would get a tax bill of nearly $2,191. That’s $17.54 higher than last year.

» The largest tax increase in dollars — $47.57 — would be felt by the owners of Home 3, a two-story, four-bedroom home between Home 2 and the South Platte River. Its projected 2019 tax bill would be just over $5,943.

Final residential property tax bills will be further reduced by just over 1 cent per $100 of taxable value under the state’s Property Tax Credit Fund, based on figures released Sept. 5 by the Property Assessment Division.

Taxable values for The Telegraph’s sample homes didn’t change this year, meaning their 2019-20 tax bills will fall or rise by identical percentages. As of Monday, that amounted to an 0.8% boost.

Which factors have shaped North Platte’s emerging 2019-20 tax picture so far?

» If your own taxable value didn’t change, your final tax bill will move up or down by identical percentages to our sample homes. Your experience naturally will be different, if your personal valuation rose or fell.

» Total 2019 taxable values for North Platte’s local governments barely rose for most and even fell in one case (the Mid-Plains Community College Area). That has eased the upward pressure on next year’s tax bill.

» North Platte’s city government, which accounted for 21% of 2018 tax bills, raised its 2019 tax request only to match the city’s tiny 0.7% growth in taxable value. The net impact on our sample homes’ tax bills? Zero.

» But the “official” city tax rate nonetheless will rise by 2% due to a 17.6% boost in the Airport Authority’s tax request to cover higher airport payroll and maintenance costs after SkyWest Airlines took over Lee Bird Field’s round-trip Denver service.

Though the city and airport have separate boards and set separate budgets, their tax requests must be combined and collected together under the state’s city tax-rate lid of 50 cents per $100 of taxable value.

(Note, however, that the projected “official” city rate of almost 51.5 cents per $100 includes bond repayments — which aren’t subject to the lid. Projected 2019 rates are 44.269 cents per $100 for the city and 7.229 cents per $100 for the airport.)

» Monday’s budget doubleheader, in which tax requests were finalized by the County Board in the morning and the school board at night, illustrates the push-pull of different local decisions on property tax bills.

Though Lincoln County accounted for just 14.5% of North Platte’s 2018 tax bill, a 19.2% boost in its 2019 tax request — driven by planned and unplanned road costs and an approaching jail expansion — likely will provide the greatest upward influence on next year’s taxes.

A 2.3% cut in the North Platte schools’ in-town tax request couldn’t fully offset that, even though the district’s share of city property owners’ tax bills (55% in 2018) remains by far the largest.

The Twin Platte Natural Resources District board will put the next piece of next year’s local tax puzzle in place when it takes up its 2019-20 budget Thursday.

The final votes will take place over three straight days next week: Monday by the Lincoln County Agricultural Society, Tuesday by Educational Service Unit 16 and Wednesday by the Mid-Plains board.

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