Turnback tax expansion, postcard cleanup measure approved

Parking facilities for convention centers and arenas qualify for state turnback tax assistance under a bill passed by senators April 13.

Sen. Rich Pahls
Sen. Rich Pahls

The Convention Center Facility Financing Assistance Act turns back 70 percent of the state sales tax collected by onsite retailers and nearby hotels to political subdivisions to help pay off bonds used to build convention and meeting center facilities.

Under LB927, introduced by Omaha Sen. Rich Pahls, political subdivisions also may use state turnback tax assistance to acquire, construct, improve and equip nearby parking facilities.

This includes any parking lot, garage or other parking structure that is located within 600 yards of a convention and meeting center facility but is not directly connected to it.

Up to $150 million may be appropriated to a single convention center project under LB927, an increase from $75 million under existing law.

The bill also contains a provision under which a municipality is eligible for a grant under the Community and Civic Center Financing Act only if it partners with a certified creative district and is not otherwise prohibited from receiving a grant.

Grant applications must include a notification of approval from the Nebraska Arts Council. A grant may not be less than $100,000 or more than $250,000.

The provision applies between July 1, 2023, and June 30, 2024.

LB927 contains the provisions of LB818, introduced by Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Elkhorn. They allow state assistance under the Sports Arena Facility Financing Assistance Act to be used for parking facilities within 700 yards of a sports arena facility.

The bill also increases the total amount of state assistance for a sports arena facility from $50 million to $100 million and repeals a current provision that prohibits state assistance from being paid out for more than 20 years after the issuance of the first bond for the facility.

The Convention Center Facility Financing Assistance Act requires a portion of turnback revenue appropriated to a city of the metropolitan class to be distributed equally to areas with a high concentration of poverty for certain purposes.

LB927 does not change those purposes but specifies that 55 percent of the funds be used to showcase important historical aspects of those areas and assist with the reduction of street and gang violence. The remaining 45 percent must be used to assist small business and entrepreneurship growth.

The bill also requires the county commissioner and city council member who serve on a committee that identifies potential projects in areas with a high concentration of poverty to share responsibility for committee operations and meetings.

Additionally, the measure requires each funding recipient to submit an itemized report to the committee detailing the use of funds.

Recipients are not eligible to receive funding for more than three consecutive years unless they are able to justify continued funding based on certain criteria, including the number of people served by the project and the economic impact on the area.

Also included in LB927 are provisions of LB1250, introduced by Blair Sen. Ben Hansen. They update a law passed last year that requires certain political subdivisions to participate in a joint public hearing before increasing their property tax request by more than a certain amount. Counties must notify affected taxpayers of the hearing by postcard.

Among other changes, LB927 requires the county clerk or his or her designee to organize the hearing. It clarifies that the cost of creating and mailing the postcards must be divided proportionately among participating political subdivisions based on the total number of parcels in each.

Lawmakers voted 38-2 to pass the bill.

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