The Gering City Council convened for a special meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 8, for a public hearing on and to set the final property tax request, along with addressing a few other business items.
After first approving the purchase of new projectors and screens for the civic center through the Omnia purchasing consortium, the council then opened up a public hearing on the fiscal year 2021/2022 property tax request. With no comments for or against the tax request, the public hearing closed, and the council adopted the resolution setting the tax request at $1,767,985, or a rate of 0.342697.
The property tax rate did not change from last year, but property valuation increased by 5% from $492,689,117 to $515,903,075, which increased the tax request from 2020’s $1,688,429.
The 2021-22 property tax makes up nearly 3% of the city’s total resources, or revenue, available for this fiscal year; it makes up about 4.7% of the operating budget, which is set at $37,613,026.
According to the resolution adopted Wednesday night, the 2021-22 operating budget increased by 9% from last year’s budget.
The resolution was passed unanimously by the council.
In other business, the council heard the first readings of five new ordinances, four of which regarding fees and rates for various city services.
Ordinance No. 2104 would increase fees for the use of the city landfill, Ordinance No. 2105 would increase fees for sewer service charges, Ordinance No. 2106 will increase water rates and Ordinance No. 2107 will increase the stormwater surcharge. Ordinance No. 2103, which is the only one not related to rates and fees, would set the budget statement as the Annual Appropriation Bill for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
One Gering citizen, Mike Brunner, came forth to offer public comment on the four ordinances relating to the increased fees. After going through each individual ordinance and calling attention to the more significant increases, he said he particularly didn’t like that they would all be happening all at once — the ordinances state that they would go into effect immediately after being passed and published, which is assumed to be in time for October billing, according to language in many of the ordinances.
“Is the city that pressed for money (that) it needs to stick it to me all at once?” he asked. “A little at a time over a few years, would be a lot more power. … Those four items alone on my July bill totaled $137.07. And if it passed, it would change to $155.50 — over 13% increase, without adding in any taxes.”
Brunner thanked the council for the opportunity to share his concerns with the council, and Mayor Tony Kaufman thanked him for sharing as well.