Hall County Officials Disagree with Governor on Inheritance Tax

Governor Dave Heineman's call for the elimination of Nebraska's inheritance tax has some central Nebraska counties worried about losing those dollars.

Heineman says he's been getting positive feedback from Nebraskans about abolishing the inheritance tax.

"Everywhere I went citizens were coming up to me saying this is good news for us, get rid of that inheritance tax, reduce taxes on middle class families, and help all of us," Heineman said.

However, some county officials say it's not a good idea because they depend on that money to make their budgets work.

"I don't think he understands that one of our and our only reasonable funding stream outside property tax is the inheritance tax," said Hall County Board of Supervisors Chair Pam Lancaster.

The Hall County board found themselves faced with several unexpected expenses at this month's meeting including a replacement van for the jail. A van that makes three to five trips to Omaha a week transporting Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees was totaled in an accident, and the corrections director told supervisors they're about $10,000 short of a new one.

"If they're at the end of their cycle and their life that's another issue, but for damage or an accident losing a vehicle - we don't budget for that," said Fred Ruiz, Hall County Corrections Director.

County officials say that ICE contract is vital to Hall County - it brought in about $1 million last year - and part of that contract includes transport.

"We have to have this van, it's not like this is a nicety, this is a necessity for us to carry on business," said Lancaster.

The board says expenses like that will keep coming and it will be more difficult to find funds if they lose more revenue. However, the governor says it's a matter of re-prioritizing.

"They need to readjust," Heineman said. "I understand their dilemma, but I believe they can do this and we can go forward and be a more family and business friendly state by eliminating the inheritance tax."

Heineman says the issue should be in legislative committee as soon as next week.

The Hall County Jail usually has two vans they use to transport detainees, but with one out of service Ruiz says they've doubled up on the remaining one to fulfill their contractual obligations.

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