I farm ground in both the Upper Republican and Twin Platte NRDs. Although my husband's day job took us to Lincoln, I get to come “home” to Ogallala often. I am disturbed about the creation of the “Super NRD N-CORPE” government entity last month and its rapid action in buying Lincoln Farms property in southern Lincoln County, as well as its efforts to indebt the people of the four NRDs through loans and the issuance of bonds with seemingly little analysis of the total costs or effect on nearby farmers and other taxpayers.
I've got questions.
Where on paper are the calculations of the total estimated cost of the Big Project, including land sale, interest on the bond, pipe, land on the pipeline route, engineering, wells and so forth? In November, we heard an $83 million figure for the land. Now we hear $110 million, which will include building a pipeline.
Where are the calculations that translate the cost into exactly how much taxes will increase for farmers and the non-farmers, both occupation tax and property levy?
Why didn't the “Super NRD” do any competitive bidding when purchasing the Lincoln Farms property?
How can the Big Project begin issuing bonds, hiring contractors, and undertaking eminent domain before the NRDs amend their Integrated Management Plans to include this game-changing augmentation plan?
What effect will pumping water from the newly purchased Lincoln Farms property have on the surrounding irrigators in southern Lincoln County?
The occupation tax law limits NRDs from assessing more than $10/acre, which is the amount the the Upper Republican NRD already assesses. The Middle Republican NRD assesses $9.43. So will the general public be asked to take up the difference by an increase of the NRD levy on their non-irrigated property? A $10/acre increase in Perkins County translates into a 900% increase of the levy.
How can the Big Project's piping water to a creek that runs at least 150 miles from the Kansas line have any effect on Nebraska's water obligation to Kansas?
How, in good government, can the “Super NRD” already have sought and received a $76 million loan and continue to negotiate in good faith with bonding companies without addressing the simple practical questions above?
I don't think people are aware what has been done to them. There will be no vote by the public, as occurs for school bonds.
According the agreement signed by the four NRDs, now that the Super NRD — N-CORPE — has a loan, the individual NRDs have committed their tax payers to pay whatever it costs. And when the Super NRD convinces the bonding company to issue bonds for them, the NRDs have committed their taxpayers to pay that amount. It is government run amuck. At a minimum, people need to tell their NRDs to amend the N-Corpe agreement and their Integrated Management Plans so that the Big Project and others can be fleshed out before additional loans and bonds are taken out, and the actual tax impacts are admitted and agreed upon.
Last question: Where are you “No New Tax” Republicans when we need you?
By Amy Svoboda, Lincoln