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Sales Tax Ballots are in the Hands of Benkelman Voters

City of Benkelman registered voters have received their ballots involving the continuation of the City’s one-and-a-half percent sales tax initiative.

The original city sales tax measure, that was approved by voters in the November, 2008 election, was for 15-years and the Benkelman City Council decided to put the sales tax question before voters again. Benkelman’s registered voters have until October 10 to cast their ballots. It is a mail-in ballot election, meaning that people will not go to their polling precincts to cast their ballots.

The Dundy County Clerk’s office mailed the ballots to registered voters late last week, the voters will make their choice and then mail them back to the Clerk’s office or drop the ballots off at the specially designated ballot box at the courthouse. The Benkelman City Council approved the sales tax ballot question resolution at their June meeting.

The specific ballot question language is, “Shall the governing body of the City of Benkelman, Nebraska impose a 1.5% sales and use tax upon the same transactions within the City of Benkelman, Nebraska on which the State of Nebraska is authorized to impose a tax, with the proceeds collected therefrom to be used specifically for any lawful purpose which may include but not limited to, funding the payment of infrastructure improvements, capital improvements which shall include the payment of interest and principle of any bonds and the principle and interest of any loan funds used to finance capital improvements and to assist in the replacement and repair of streets and sidewalks for community betterment purposes?”

The language is very similar to the resolution approved by voters in 2008. The resolution at that time stated that the city council could use the funds in the replacement and repair of streets, sidewalks, infrastructure consisting of water and waste water mains and lines, water source developments, water wells and storage, and public lighting of streets and highways in the city limits and the reduction of any public debt incurred by the City of Benkelman.

In the last 15-years the one-and-a-half percent city sales tax has generated over three-point-two million dollars ($3,216,955.01) for the city. After collection, the State Department of Revenue refunds the local sales tax dollars back to the city each month and the money goes into a specific city sales tax account. The City Council then transfers funds from that account to cover costs associated with the varying projects and initiatives.

Some of the more recent project funds have been used to include, street resurfacing and repair work, which Benkelman residents deemed a priority 15-years ago and since. The required and state mandated water well and waste water treatment projects. Waterline replacement and repairs in Benkelman. The mains done on Chief Street last year. One of the biggest infrastructure issues the City of Benkelman has had to deal with in recent years is the collapsing of the old clay sewer lines running under streets and neighborhoods. The City was able to have a company replace all the sewer lining throughout the community using funds generated by the sales tax.

City officials say the city sales tax funds made these projects feasible, if not possible to do. In many cases for community’s that don’t have a city sales tax, street and curb repairs, armor coating, and other projects that are deemed non essential, never get done. Without the city sales tax it is likely that city residents would have even higher monthly utility bills as the funds generated have helped in offsetting the costs of repairs, maintenance, and construction costs. The City Sales Tax has provided additional funds from people outside of the city limits, who are also using city streets and amenities when they come to town. The City is encouraging residents to make sure to cast your ballots before October 10.

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