The Neligh City Council officially decreased its levy 13 cents at Tuesday’s meeting and lowered its property tax request for the third straight year.
Council members approved the 2015-16 budget after a public hearing. Although about two dozen people were in attendance, no one asked questions or voiced concerns about the City's budget.
Operational expenses for the City of Neligh increased about $30,000 from last year, although the amount of taxes paid by residents and businesses in city limits will still go down. The $30,000 stems from the estimated budget expenses for 2015-16 compared to where the 2014-15 year-end estimate would be for Sept. 30.
A breakdown of property tax shows the general budget will receive $282,646.69 while $190,304.00 is requested for bonds.
Public documents show the City’s bond request has decreased almost 34 percent since 2012-13 while the general fund request has increased about 13 percent. That’s why the City of Neligh’s overall property tax request has decreased about 12 percent in the last three years.
City Clerk Dana Klabenes explained that although the overall budget shows an increase in spending for 2015-16, a majority of those funds are a shift of money through grants, projects and other funds and are not operation expenses. Klabenes said the city’s budget must include funds it intends to expend or spend, even if they are grants.
“While our expenses are growing this year, it’s not through expenses we are spending,” she said, adding, “If we’re going to use the money for a project, we have to show that we’re going to ask for authority to spend the money.”
Klabenes cited nearly $1.6 million that the City may receive in the upcoming fiscal year. Although many of the funds are not guaranteed, legally the budget must include the money in order to spend it.
She said this includes $568,000 in restricted lines of credit, bonds and investments for electric; LB 840 and Downtown Revitalization grants of $699,000; as well as park foundation and lottery funds that total $312,000.
“When you take those figures out of the picture for what we’re actually looking for operational expenses . . . (it’s) closer to $4,864,000,” Klabenes said. “It’s only an increase of $30,000 and much lower than the $6.4 million that we have to report.”