Committee Conducts Hearing on Tax Increment Financing, in Nebraska

BEATRICE – Nebraska lawmakers could make another run at changes to community development law relating to tax increment financing, in the upcoming session.

A legislative committee hearing Friday focused partly on the Nebraska Auditor’s report on the use of TIF, which was issued in December of last year.  Legal counsel for the Urban Affairs Committee, Trevor Fitzgerald spoke of the main issue contained in the auditor’s report.

:25                  “by local governments”

Fitzgerald said the shortcomings went beyond record keeping, in one instance involving McCool Junction’s use of TIF for co-op and motor speedway projects.

:15                  “one project”

Other issues raised in the auditor’s report included annual reporting to the state property tax administrator, reimbursement of TIF costs prior to approval of a redevelopment plan and the process used for designating areas as blighted and substandard.  Another issue involved having no cost-benefit analysis completed prior to approval of a development plan.

Nebraska State Auditor Charlie Janssen says his office’s report was not intended to stop the use of tax increment financing as an economic development tool.

:39                  “all of our audits”

Former State Senator Russ Karpisek, now the legislative liaison for the State Auditor, told the Urban Affairs Committee he has a hard time believing that anything a city does, should not be recorded or kept in the records.

:28                  “up to the legislature”

Some bills dealing with TIF were considered last session.  LB496, introduced by Gering Sen. John Stinner, would allow certain cities and villages to use tax increment financing to support the construction of workforce housing. The bill stalled during the second round of debate.  Three measures were advanced to general file by the Urban Affairs Committee but not scheduled for debate during the session.

LR16CA, introduced by Omaha Sen. Justin Wayne and advanced 6-0, would place a proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2018 general election ballot. It would authorize the Legislature to extend the maximum repayment period for TIF indebtedness from 15 to 20 years if more than half of the property in a project area is designated as extremely blighted.

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