NTF TESTIMONY ON LB 20

NTF worksheet: legwatch168.doc. 1-19.
NEBRASKA TAXPAYERS FOR FREEDOM TESTIMONY ON LB 20: Jan. 24, 2019.

Good afternoon. My name is Doug Kagan, representing NE Taxpayers for Freedom. Our taxpayer group strongly urges the committee to advance LB 20.

In Douglas County, property taxpayers face a $67 annual tax hike on a $200,000 home, with additional taxes in future to operate and maintain a courthouse expansion and country club-style juvenile center. County commissioners want to issue $120 million in revenue bonds, although they not yet have tabulated and revealed the cost of renovating the MUD building or decided definitely on the site for a new juvenile center. No open meetings or open records from the beginning until recently. Awarding of no-bid contracts. Potential conflicts of interest between duties of elected officials and their duties as directors of the non-profit management. Lack of documentation for work approved. No serious consideration of alternative sites. Promised private funding not guaranteed. We believe that commissioners purposefully and intentionally created a convoluted, confusing non-profit mechanism networking with the county building commission to avoid public transparency.

We have requested in vain the building commission to backtrack and use typical processes utilized in the private sector. We urge a process like that used in the 2016 county bond issue that included 100% public, competitive open bidding. The building commission would retain professional services of an expert consultant to assist in the development of a Request for Qualifications for interested bidder teams with expertise and assist the county in award of a contract. This process also would allow for consideration of alternative sites by offsetting any reduction in construction costs by a predetermined amount of internal cost borne by the county due to having separate facilities. The method to determine the internal cost to the county must be established prior to the competing teams developing their respective bids as a matter of transparency and fairness.

The county would then select a short list of qualified developer/designer/contractor bidder teams. Each team in its bidding would have the discretion to propose each facility on the preferred site or propose an alternative site. A short list of qualified teams would develop a design and construction cost based on a program and site development requirements developed by the county with its consultant. The contract would be awarded using a commonly used Technically Acceptable-Least Cost selection analysis that would include construction cost plus any differential, internal cost to the county.

At this time, we simply do not know if there exists less costly alternatives. We believe that passing LB 20 will guarantee transparency in the issuance of revenue bonds and hold local officials accountable. We would like to see extension of such requirement in future to all local taxing authorities that issue such bonds.

Thank you.
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At this hearing, Douglas County Commissioner Chris Rodgers testified against the bill, though Douglas County Commissioners had not taken a position on LB 20. A representative of the League of NE Municipalities also testified against the bill. This organization, subsidized by taxpayer dollars through NE towns and cities, frequently opposes tax relief and reform legislation. A representative of the Lancaster County Board also spoke in opposition.

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