Superintendent Joel, President Danek and members of the Lincoln Board of Education, LIBA is here tonight to ask for property tax relief. If you do not lower your levy, you will be taking another $32 million from the citizens of Lincoln. From the $32 million in new tax dollars, you intend to put $10 million into savings. LIBA thinks that this is just too much.
There has been no public discussion of levy relief again this year. LIBA is disappointed that tax relief could not come at a time when clearly the LPS budget is not “pinched.”
There are two opportunities for tax relief in this budget.
First, in past years where property re-evaluations have occurred, the bond levy has been lowered. This year, LPS can and should lower the bond levy rate because the 6.5% increase in property valuation means LPS should not require as much levy to service the bond payments. We understand that this part of the budget discussion will take place in July and we look forward to the Board’s announcement of a bond levy reduction.
Second, putting $10 million dollars into a savings account in case the State makes cuts to State Aid[i] is an extreme measure. LIBA is asking that you lower the general fund levy to $1.02, which would still allow for a deposit into the reserve. Yes, you can fully fund your needs; you can lower the levy, and still add to the reserve.
If you put $10 million into your savings, you are taking $10 million out of the Lincoln economy. LIBA believes the $10 million would be put to better use by the citizens of Lincoln. As you know, LPS has 43% of its students living in low income homes. This is $10 million that could be used to purchase necessities and pay bills.
The citizens of this wonderful community recently voted to give LPS $153 million in new bonding authority. Now would be a great time to give-back though property tax relief.
You have an exciting opportunity. You can offer property tax relief and not have to close one classroom, not have to fire a single employee, and you will not have to cut one program.