Constitutional amendment could boost revenue

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October 28th, 2010

Lincoln, NE- Nebraska cities and towns would be able to use more sources of revenue for economic development projects, under a proposal voters will find on their ballots next week.

Municipalities can already use property taxes and local sales taxes for economic development projects. Amendment One , a constitutional amendment placed on the ballot by the Legislature, would also let them use utility revenues, grants, donations, state and federal funds for such projects. Dee Haussler, director of the Hastings Economic Development Corporation, said it would give cities additional tools to attract businesses and jobs.

“You could buy land; you could build buildings; you could do a lot of different things with dollars that maybe there’s some limitations on now. And our challenge is just to be competitive with surrounding states as well.”
The League of Nebraska Muncipalities supports the proposal. But Mike Groene, head of the Western Nebraska Taxpayers Association, said Amendment One’s a bad idea.

“It blurs the line, which is already too blurry between government and free enterprise. Cities and municipalities aren’t even filling the potholes because they don’t want to do the mundane things of government. They want to get into the free market and jobs creation and they do a terrible job of it.”
If adopted, the amendment would require that local voters give their approval before any project moves forward. A similar amendment appeared on the ballot two years ago, and was rejected by a vote of 54 to 46 percent.

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