LINCOLN, NEB. – The Nebraska Farm Bureau announced today its opposition to the Southeast Community College (SCC) $369 million bond proposal that seeks to secure funds for projects across the Southeast Community College system, including construction of a new campus in downtown Lincoln. If passed, the measure would equate to a massive property tax increase on farmers, businesses, and homeowners across the 15 county SCC District, said Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson.
“Educational opportunities are vitally important to Nebraskans. We understand the important role community colleges play in preparing Nebraskans for jobs, both inside and out of agriculture. With that said, this SCC proposal fails to meet the needs of the other partners in the educational process; the individual tax payers who will have to take real money out of their pockets and family budgets to pay for the $369 million measure, plus interest,” said Nelson.
Nelson said the decision to oppose the measure stems from numerous factors, starting with the concern expressed by members of the organization who reside and pay taxes in the district.
“The message we’ve heard from members has been clear. This SCC proposal is too big, too expensive, and too risky,” said Nelson. “Lumping together numerous projects in a single bond with a price tag that we estimate could top half-a-billion dollars in new property taxes, when all is said and done, is unacceptable. Relief from skyrocketing property tax bills is the number one concern we hear from members. This proposal doesn’t provide the level of detail or certainty about how dollars will be spent for a request of this magnitude. Raising property taxes by $369 million ($369,000,000) without definitive plans about how and when the money will be spent is simply irresponsible.”
Nelson noted that SCC would benefit from a different approach to addressing renovation and facility needs.
“What voters need to understand is that SCC has room under their existing taxing authority to raise additional funds for these types of projects – authority which remains even if the bond passes. We are asking SCC to slow down and consider Nebraska’s taxpayers who already pay the 7th highest property taxes in the country,” said Nelson. “SCC would be better suited to look at their existing taxing authority and prioritize projects in smaller, more targeted requests, if warranted,” said Nelson.
The decision to oppose the measure was not taken lightly. Representatives from Farm Bureau, including individual members who will be directly impacted by the measure, have met with SCC officials to both discuss and ask questions about the Bond measure.
“SCC and our state’s other community colleges provide an important service to Nebraskans and our labor force. Farm Bureau even has a presence at SCC through our Collegiate Farm Bureau. This isn’t a question of whether there is value in SCC. It’s a question of whether this is a good proposal,” said Nelson. “This specific proposal fails to provide enough detail or accountability and asks too much of taxpayers and their children who will be paying for this measure for the next 25 years. Taxpayers in the District should vote NO on this measure and let SCC know they must better articulate the need and provide detailed accounting when taking money out of the pockets of homeowners, farmers, and businesses in the form of new tax dollars.”