There has been a lot of discussion across the state and in the legislature surrounding how property taxes are out of control and that they must be reduced. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Many people and legislators in Lincoln believe that the schools continually increase their tax asking every year and that we should reduce our budgets to provide this relief. The reality is that over the last 10 years, the state has provided less funding for schools and pushed the responsibility of those expenses back on the local property owners. In the first year as Heartland (98-99), the district received $576,000 in state aid. For the last several years, we have been considered an unequalized district, which means that we do not receive funding through the state aid formula.
Between 70-80% of a school’s budget is to pay for items mandated by our same state legislature. We have no control over those expenses. What we are experiencing is not a school spending issue; it is a state funding issue. To fund the state budget, we need a tax system that is fair and balanced for all Nebraska taxpayers in every school district.
In the Heartland district, we have asked our taxpayers for less money each of the last 4 years. Because this trend will not last forever, we need to motivate our state senators to come up with a solution. We are closely monitoring the current bills being discussed in Lincoln. I encourage you to make your voice heard with our local representatives and encourage them to step up and deliver the funding that they have taken away over the last 10 years in order to relieve property owners. I do believe that they will pass some form of property tax relief this session. I hope that they do so without penalizing those of us that have been fiscally responsible.
It is always worrisome when the state or federal government steps in and tells the local government what they can and cannot do, especially in an area where we have locally elected officials to make those decisions. Our school board has done a great job in being sensitive to the property tax issues while providing a great school system for our children. I don’t want someone else assuming more control of the great situation we have going for us. I am not sure we will have a choice in the end, but you can make a difference in making sure our legislators hear your story and experience concerning property taxes.
On another note, if you have not done so, please check out our student run business, HCS Customs, on the web at hcscustoms.com. They offer many student created products which can be ordered online and all proceeds go back into the business for additional learning opportunities.
Have a great spring season!
Find the full school newsletter here: https://heartlandschools.socs.net/vnews/display.v/SEC/Our%20District%7CNewsletters
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