Good afternoon, Chairwoman Linehan and members of the Revenue Committee. I’m Nicole Fox, Director of Government Relations at the Platte Institute and I am testifying in support of LB1212. We are especially enthusiastic about the amendment filed with this bill (AM2435). Last year, the Legislature unanimously approved LB103, which was an important transparency and accountability measure for when local property tax increases might occur due to rising valuations.
The problem that we have observed in the first year of implementation of LB103 is that most Nebraskans still don’t know about the law or their opportunity to be engaged in the process of deciding how their property taxes are levied.
With the amendment you have before you, LB1212 would update LB103 to become a real Truth in Taxation law. Property taxpayers would receive notice, by mail, informing them of the LB103 hearings in their community and the impact the decisions of local subdivisions would have on their property tax bill.
This policy has worked very well in Utah to motivate residents to become involved in local government. It has also helped to keep property taxes down to a reasonable level.
One downside of Truth in Taxation is that local governments may sometimes become reluctant to adopt modest property tax increases, and that places the burden on future officeholders and taxpayers when much larger tax increases are necessary all at once.
On the whole, though, Utah property taxes are much lower than Nebraska’s, and we know that Nebraskans are willing to give local boards the opportunity to make their case for why an increase in property taxes has merit.
We support Truth in Taxation because we believe Nebraskans will feel a greater sense of balance and satisfaction in how property taxes are levied if they are given more information about how to address their concerns. We also believe it will help local governments make tax and spending decisions with greater buy-in. LB1212 does not impose any additional limits on property taxing authority, but it does give every taxpayer the information they would need to decide whether they should get involved in the local process that decides what their property tax bill will be.