Transportation and Telecommunications

Municipal infrastructure aid proposal advanced

Senators gave first-round approval Jan. 23 to a new program that would help certain Nebraska cities pay for infrastructure improvements needed to attract manufacturers and other companies.

Sen. Loren Lippincott
Sen. Loren Lippincott

As introduced by Sen. Loren Lippincott of Central City last session, LB600 would have allowed an existing state Department of Transportation program to finance certain infrastructure improvements in first or second class cities or villages.

A Transportation and Telecommunications Committee amendment, adopted 42-0, replaced the bill.

Under the new proposal, which would create the Municipality Infrastructure Aid Act, first or second class cities or villages with a redevelopment plan approved under the Community Development Law could apply to the state Department of Economic Development for a grant to finance water and sewer systems, roads, bridges and other infrastructure related to site development.

Lippincott said LB600 would help Nebraska communities prepare large, construction-ready sites for manufacturing, processing, trade and other businesses. Development of one such site on the outskirts of Grand Island would be a “huge economic driver for central Nebraska,” he said.

In its application, a city or village would have to describe how the proposed improvements would attract and support any new business or business expansion and how that activity would create additional jobs in or near the city or village, among other information.

Applications also would include a cost-benefit analysis of the redevelopment plan. Only applications with a positive analysis would be eligible for a grant.

Grants would be limited to $5 million per application, and grantees would have to provide matching funds equal to at least 25 percent of the amount of the grant.

Sen. Raymond Aguilar of Grand Island supported the bill. He said the proposal could help Grand Island take advantage of Union Pacific and BNSF rail lines that run through the city, reducing truck traffic and saving central Nebraska businesses millions of dollars in transportation expenses.

Elmwood Sen. Robert Clements, chairperson of the Appropriations Committee, also voted to advance LB600 to the second round of debate but said he does not support the proposed transfer of $10 million from the state’s Cash Reserve Fund to the new program. Those funds might not be available by the end of the legislative session, he said.

Following the 40-0 adoption of a technical amendment offered by Sen. Mike Moser of Columbus, the bill advanced to select file on a vote of 41-0.

Bookmark and Share