- Associated Press - Thursday, August 7, 2014

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - Hall County officials have what other county officials might say is a good problem: deciding what to do with $695,000 in excess revenue.

The county has an estimated $432 million in new property valuation on the books, providing a revenue windfall of sorts for the 2014-15 budget.

Supervisor Steve Schuppan said at the county board meeting Wednesday that the 40 percent across-the-board valuation increase on agricultural land has raised concerns among farmers, who also face a drop in corn prices, The Grand Island Independent said (https://bit.ly/1otHMzr ).

But Supervisor Pam Lancaster wondered whether the county could afford to forgo the tax levy’s extra revenue.

“I’m always OK with lowering the levy - everyone should be - but at what cost?” Lancaster said.

The county’s maintenance needs have been adding up, she said. Chief among them is the failing heating and air-conditioning system at the Hall County Courthouse. The replacement is estimated to cost up to $2 million if the courthouse needs to remain operational during the replacement work. The county already has budgeted $1.7 million from inheritance funds for the project.

Officials also have said the county administration building parking lot needs repaving, the county office building and the county attorney’s building need new roofs, the courthouse windows need replacing and an old portion of the courthouse annex needs to be torn down. Those projects alone total $580,000, and officials said other maintenance issues are still adding up.

The county’s property tax bill last year was $478 for an owner of a $100,000 home. If the county were to drop the levy to eliminate excess revenue, the county bill would drop to $462 on the same home.

Supervisor Gary Quandt said leaving the levy alone would mean bigger bills for most property owners because the valuations have been raised on most properties.

The supervisors decided to wait until their Aug. 25 budget meeting to decide whether to change the levy.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, https://www.theindependent.com

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