Kearney's Property Tax Stays the Same for Six Years

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When the Kearney City Council approved this year's budget a few months ago they did so without changing the property tax rate, and it's not the first time they've been able to do so.

In fact, Kearney's property tax rate has stayed the same for the past six years.

Kearney also enjoys the second lowest municipal tax levy among first class cities in Nebraska. City leaders say rates can change when communities don't grow or expenses jump, but Kearney has been fortunate.

"Total growth in assessed valuation only increased a little over one percent [last year], so that made it a little more difficult, but we were pleased that we're able to maintain the same tax rate," says City Manager Michael Morgan.

Property tax dollars help pay for things like police, fire, administration, and parks and recreation. Morgan says other revenue sources like a telecommunications tax help fund the city too.

"The city council has been very clear to avoid whenever possible any tax increases and we've just been fortunate over the past several years and have been able to do that," he says.

Finance Director Wendell Wessels says the city had much higher property taxes about 25 years ago, but a sales tax passed in the early '90s drove rates down in just a couple of years.

"The citizens of Kearney voted in a one cent sales tax for the purpose of reducing property taxes," says Wessels. "That one cent sales tax brings in about $7.5 million right now so we use all of that to reduce property taxes."

In terms of cents, Wessels says it doesn't sound like a lot, but that 45 cent difference adds up to $450 a year on a $100,000 home.

"It's swings anywhere from $150 to $500 depending on your levy at 15 cents or 50 cents, so in Kearney you would pay less in property taxes which puts more money in your pocket," he says.

Residents in the City of York pay the least amount of property taxes at about 14 cents/$100 valuation. The City of Crete is the highest at nearly 56 cents.

Morgan says their unchanged rate is something Kearney is very proud of.