Monday, May 28, 2012

What's the matter with Nebraska?

Except for some small deviations of theme to discuss Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs or some of my travels to places other than Nebraska, this blog is pretty much about everything that makes Nebraska great, and though I sometimes don't post as often as I should, there is never any lack of subject matter.

A friend brought the following article to my attention recently:

What’s the matter with Nebraska?

Forget Article IV of the Constitution! Isn't it about time we stop pretending that all states are created equal?

It's an excerpt from a book entitled "ME the People" by Kevin Bleyer. I wouldn't want to use this blog as a way to give Mr. Bleyer any publicity for such an undeserving project, but as long as you do NOT rush out to buy his book, I haven't done any harm to this great state or any of the others he denigrates by bringing this to your attention.

To minimize the risk of an accusation of copyright infringement by overzealous lawyers over at Salon, I'll just give you a few brief quotes - and encourage you to read the original article for yourself.

"There are more Americans in prison than in Nebraska... What's the difference?"
"Nebraska... feels like a punishment for a crime."
"It's also a lifesucking leech on our body politic."
Enough of that. Let's move on to someone who had really gotten the chance to know Nebraska, and has come to love it!

Alan Wilkinson is a Brit (you can follow him on twitter at @SandhillsBrit), who has made fifteen road trips across Nebraska since 1991, logging more than 40,000 miles (some of them on bicycle). Most recently he spent six months in a cabin on the Niobrara River. He has taken the TIME to get to know our great state and her people.

The Red House On The Niobrara
An account of his travels and impressions of Nebraska has been collected into this e-book (available on Amazon) for a very modest price. I HIGHLY recommend that you purchase it and download it to your Kindle, Nook or what ever e-reader you use.

That is the sentiment Nebraska imprints on people who take the time to do more than mindlessly drive across our beautiful state on I-80.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Slated for Demolition

You may recall that I previously posted about the primary election which was held in Nebraska on May 15. On the ballot in Sutherland were two propositions that would allow the Village to enact a 1% city sales tax, with half used for infrastructure and half for economic development. It was not only defeated, but went down in flames at about a 3-1 margin.

 Those people who voted no are more interested in saving pennies than saving their town. The building pictured below, which I photographed in an attempt to sway voters to vote yes, has been condemned, deeded over to the village and is slated for demolition.
An economic development friend of mine says she has seen buildings in a more derelict state than this one be saved - by a community that has the drive and will to devote resources to saving instead of tearing down. It will take tax dollars to demolish this building... would that money be better spent in stabilizing it and seeking a developer that could transform it into a tax generator - property, sales, income - rather than a tax drain?

That's my soap box for the day.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Seasons 2012 Part 4

The beauty of the sandhills remains, but the green of her grasses is entirely dependent on rain - which we haven't had much of. Taken at about 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 20.
7:45 a.m. CDT on Sunday, April 8, 2012.
Below approximately 8:15 a.m. on March 18.
Below 9:00am CT on Sunday February 5.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Help Sutherland by voting YES tomorrow!

Voters within the village of Sutherland will have the opportunity to vote on the LB 840 Local Option Sales Tax. If enacted, the local sales tax would be levied upon the same items that are subject to Nebraska sales tax as regulated by the Nebraska Legislature. According to the Nebraska Department of Revenue Information Guide for Nebraska Sales and Use Tax, the following goods and services are taxable:

Retailers must collect tax on the gross receipts from the following sales, unless a specific exemption applies (the applicable sales tax regulation is indicated in parentheses):

  • Admissions (1-044);
  • Computer software; computer software training when charges for the training are paid to the retailer who sold the software (1-088);
  • Freight or delivery charges including postage, crating, packing, and shipping and handling charges collected by the retailer (1-079);
  • Hotel accommodations (1-046);
  • Installation or furnishing of satellite programming and cable television (1-045 and 1-081);
  • Mobile telecommunications services, which includes paging services and two-way radio service (1-065);
  • Production, assembly, repair and installation labor charges (1-082);
  • Tangible personal property (1-007);
  • Telephone service (1-065);
  • Utilities (1-066 and 1-089);
  •  Warranties, guarantees, and maintenance agreements (1-074).

The gross receipts from the following services are taxable:

  • Animal specialty services (1-102)
  • Building cleaning and maintenance services (1-098);
  • Detective services (1-101);
  • Motor vehicle painting; towing; washing and waxing (1-099);
  • Pest control services (1-100)
  •  Recreational vehicle park services (1-103);
  • Repair or maintenance services to personal property (except licensable motor vehicles) (1-082);
  • Security services (1-101).

Certain sales are not subject to tax.
Exempt sales are divided into four groups:

Remember when this corner was a hive of activity?
Can it be again with investment of LB840 $$?

  1. Retailer-Based Exemption. Only retailers that are specifically identified by regulation who are making certain types of sales qualify for this exemption from collecting the sales tax. Some examples include: specific items and services sold by Nebraska schools and sub organizations of Nebraska schools; churches; hospitals; and other licensed health care entities. Occasional sales are also included in this group.
  2. Buyer-Based Exemption. Only buyers specifically identified by regulation are exempt from sales tax. Those buyers include: the United States government and its agencies; Nebraska state and local governments; nonprofit organizations created exclusively for religious purposes or to provide services to the blind; Nebraska educational institutions; and Nebraska licensed nonprofit hospitals, skilled nursing facilities. A Nebraska Exemption Application for Sales and Use Tax, Form 4, must be submitted and approved prior to an Exemption Certificate being issued to a qualified nonprofit organization, public school, health care facility, etc.
  3. Product-Based Exemption. Only those products specifically identified by regulation qualify for this exemption. Some examples include: prescription medicines; insulin; gasoline; and food.
  4. Use-Based Exemption. Only those uses specifically identified by regulation qualify for this exemption. Some examples include: items purchased to be resold as agricultural products; purchased by a manufacturer; seeds and annual plants for agricultural purposes; and feed and water for cattle.

Sales of depreciable agricultural machinery and equipment are exempt from Nebraska and local option sales and use tax when purchased for use in commercial agriculture.

The local sales tax will only be levied upon purchase made or delivered to an address within the Village of Sutherland. Taxable purchases made outside the corporate limits of the Village of Sutherland, such as at Ozzie’s I-80 or the Oregon Trail Golf Course would be unaffected by the local sales tax.

Motor vehicles, appliances, flooring, window coverings and furniture purchased elsewhere and delivered to an address in Sutherland would be subject to the 1% sales tax.

The City of North Platte has long had a city sales tax of 1.5%. Purchases made for taxable goods within the corporate limits of North Platte, such as toilet paper, laundry soap, health and beauty products and pet foods at stores such as Wal-Mart and Menards are subject to North Platte’s city sales tax. The revenue collected from this tax remains in North Platte.

Is it already too late for this beautiful building in
Sutherland's downtown?
There are two provisions on the ballot in May pertaining to the local option sales tax, proposition one and proposition two. Proposition one creates the 1% local sales tax. Proposition two creates the regulations governing its use and the process by which proceeds from the tax can be distributed to private businesses. Half of the collections can be used by the Sutherland Village Board of Trustees on infrastructure projects such as streets, sidewalks, water and sewer systems and parks. The other half is earmarked for economic development and can be distributed to private businesses in the forms of grants or low interest loans.

A rigorous process for grants and/or loans is outlined in the regulations which include an application, background and credit checks, evaluation by the loan review committee, followed by review by the economic development committee, which then sends a recommendation on to the Village Board of Trustees, who can approve or decline the application. Public input is invited during the process.

According to the list provided on the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s website, sixty Nebraska communities have enacted the local option sales tax. These include Albion (pop. 1600), Arapahoe (pop. 868), Arnold (pop. 571), Beaver City (pop. 542), Burwell (pop. 1003), Gothenburg (pop. 3703), and Loup City (pop. 845).

Both Proposition 1 and Proposition 2 MUST pass in order for this to be enacted. Please VOTE YES for both!