I live in Hayes County and operate an irrigation/dryland, cow/calf farm.
I would like to point out some facts that pertain to the NRD debate. It seems to me that a large part of the public's perception is that the irrigators are to blame for the state's non-compliance of the 1943 compact.
I keep hearing that we need to "shut off all the wells" and then we would be in compliance with Kansas simple …. right?
No increased property taxes, no increased NRD levy, no occupancy tax, no LB701. No problem!? Yeah, right!
At present, our county and affiliated taxing entities operate on taxes generated from $183.5 million valuation. Of that $183.5 million, $57.8 million comes from irrigated land value.
For the moment let's say that we do shut off all the wells to solve the problem. Our county would still need the same amount of money to operate. That $57.8 million of irrigated land value would turn into $17.1 million of dryland value. Our county would lose $40.7 million in valuation.
How would this affect home owners in Hayes Center? Currently, at 2007 value and levy, a house or piece of land valued at $100,000 generates $1,849 tax dollars.
If LB701 bond levy is included, it raises to $1896 per year. (An increase of approximately 3 percent).
If the irrigated land value were replaced with dryland value (A loss of $40.7 million in value) the same $100,000 house or piece of land would be charged $2369 tax dollars to maintain the current level of operating funds.
With LB701 included, it would raise to $2429, an increase of more than 25 percent. This does not even include the $8.7 million in valuation that comes from personal property tax of which irrigation equipment is a sizable portion.
This would magnify the problem even more. LB701 may not be a perfect solution, but it is better than the consequences of "shutting off the wells." With LB701 in place, our property taxes stand to increase approximately 3 percent. In our case in Hayes County with the wells shut off, our property tax would increase more than 25 percent.
Don't be fooled by those who have not considered the facts when they say "shut all the wells off." We are all in this together and there has to be a reasonable solution that we can all live with, but "shutting off all the wells" is not one of them!
I feel we have a very competent NRD board and State Legislature who have worked hard to deal with these serious water issues.
They realize the cost and repercussions that would incur if all the wells are shut off. They understand the trickle-down effect that would devastate Southwest Nebraska.
Effects such as … lost jobs, less people, bankrupt businesses just to name a few. I believe it is imperative to know and understand the devastating effects that our communities will suffer.
I have given the numbers and facts for Hayes County and I challenge you to do the research for your own county to understand how the facts and numbers will affect you.
Go to your County Assessor and ask for this public information. I know the numbers will vary from county to county, but assuredly the results will be in the same ballpark!