NTF issue paper: ccwatch164.doc. 6-21.

. There already exists heated controversy about the use of state tax increment financing (TIFs). TIFs allow commercial developers to avoid paying most property taxes for 15 years, with the hope that new development will accrue much more sales and property tax revenue. During the TIF period, the developer pays property taxes only on the original valuation. However, statewide the TIF intent is not always applied. Originally meant to rehabilitate and resuscitate blighted urban and rural areas, generous local officials now use it as a reward or bribe to entice commercial development. Now taking advantage of this taxpayer largesse are gambling casinos. Under a new law, 6 licensed racing tracks with casinos can appear around the state, with some of their proceeds going to the state General Fund. Casinos planned for Omaha, Columbus, Hastings, Grand Island, Lincoln, and South Sioux City. A $200 million project advancing in Lincoln after a rezoning request by developers.

. Casino developers plan to transform Horsemen’s Park at 60th & Q Streets in Omaha into a racetrack/casino and, after a Planning Board approval, seek $17.5 million in TIFs to construct their project with expansion of a clubhouse and renovation. This $220 million proposal comes from War Horse Gaming Omaha, a subsidiary of the Winnebago Tribe of NE.

. This project will include a casino, racing, and entertainment with 1,200 gambling stations, gaming tables, and live entertainment options. A sports bar, central bar, coffee shop, and restaurant included. Also, a draft house, terrace, and VIP lounge. A Sept. 2022 completion date envisioned. Approximately 520 full-time and part-time jobs projected.

. During construction, city taxpayers will pay for infrastructure improvements, e.g., streets, sidewalks, landscaping.

. Nationally, communities do not grant TIFs to gambling establishments, obviously because they do not need it. Flush with money and probably raking in millions in cash, casinos do not need taxpayer help to build and locate their establishments. A Las Vegas gaming and hospitality consulting firm executive recalled only 1 casino project, in Las Vegas, that had sought such a tax break, denied by city officials. Also, the 60th & Q area is not a blighted area. The reason it is not fully developed is that most of the area sits in a flood plain, so visions of commercial development sprouting up around the casino is fantasy. The developer is a hypocrite for lobbying for a gambling amendment to the state constitution as providing property tax relief and then demanding a property tax TIF. Omaha taxpayers would see no property tax relief until 2023 (2020 Nebraska Ballot Issues — Election Results. By J. D. Aiken, Nov. 18, 2020). The Mississippi casinos rose in the Delta counties with no TIFs. The casino industry there receives fewer economic development incentives than other industries (Community Profile: Tunica, Miss. Lays Big Bet on the Casino Industry, Jan. 1, 2007). Joplin, MO. denies TIFs to casinos (32ND STREET PLACE TAX INCREMENT FINANCING REDEVELOPMENT PLAN JOPLIN, MISSOURI), as does the City of Blue Springs, MO. and Kenilworth, Ill (City of Blue Springs, MO. Tax Increment Financing, p. 8. Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Plan & Program Green Bay Road TIF Village of Kenilworth, Ill). Because Omaha might offer a TIF to this casino, other casinos allowed in the state will request like favoritism.

. Columbus Exposition & Racing has interviewed casino operators, who requested TIFs to construct a casino there. The city then designated the proposed location as blighted in order to make TIF available. Public hearings and feedback coming (Columbus Telegram, Apr. 17, 2021). Cost estimated at about $50 million for a new horse track, casino, and hotel. Formalized designs done. 3 casino operations now bidding on a casino there that would have 500 slot machines, 15-20 gaming tables, restaurants, and a sports bar. A need then to build or add infrastructure like water, sewer, and electrical (Columbus Telegram, Apr. 9, 2021).

. Nebraska taxpayers should not become fooled that casinos will alleviate our property tax burden. Across the river, casino operators and their supporters promised property tax relief to Iowans, which failed to materialize. Flush with money from suckers, casinos do not need a TIF property tax break, which actually would shove the property tax load onto local taxpayers.
Using the text above, lobby your city council member now to vote NO on TIFs for local casinos and email netaxpayers@gmail.com to join our City Watch Project.

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