The proposed elimination of inheritance taxes would hit Lincoln County hard – to the tune of $550,000 a year, County Commissioner Joe Hewgley said.
Hewgley testified to the Legislature on a bill that would eliminate inheritances taxes, something that Gov. Dave Heineman is fostering.
Hewgley said that cut would be another bite in the continuing situation of less help from the state to the counties, and would shift taxes onto local property owners.
And, it would hit the county roads department hard, Hewgley said.
Most of the inheritance tax money goes right into the roads department, Hewgley said. The roads would take a 10 percent cut if Heineman has his way.
And it’s not just that, it would continue a pattern that began in the 1970s of reducing funds available to counties.
In his written testimony, Hewgley listed some of the past cuts:
• Late 70s, early 80s – personal property taxes reduced.
• 80s – federal revenue sharing ended.
• 90s – sales taxes shared with cities but not counties.
• 2000s – forced counties to take state prisoners, but only reimbursed 18-19 percent of the costs.
• 2010 – no reimbursement for housing county prisoners.
• 2011 – state aid to counties eliminated.
“Look out Mr. Real Estate Property Taxpayer, all of the (county) funding is going to come from you,” Hewgley said.
“It has become easy for ‘our representatives’ in Lincoln, including Gov. Heineman, to say that it wasn’t us (who raised your property taxes), we don’t have anything to do with property taxes, you need to speak to your county boards, they are the ones raising your (property) taxes,” Hewgley wrote.
“The bottom line is: Lincoln County has lost a very significant amount of dollars, by the state of Nebraska. We have absorbed shortfalls of several hundred thousand dollars alone in just the past two years. We simply cannot take another loss of well over a half million annually without…some other way to make up for those losses,” Hewgley wrote.
Hewgley noted that the state continues to spend an average 6 percent more each year.
He called for a quarter-cent or half-cent of state sales taxes to go to counties.
Hewgley has been a Lincoln County Commissioner for 27 years. He is on the board of directors of the Nebraska Association of County Officials. NACO is also opposed to elimination of inheritance tax.