This is a paid piece for the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance.
Simplified: Voters in Lincoln County will decide on Oct. 5 whether they're willing to pay a tax increase to fund road and bridge improvements for the next three years.
Why it matters
- Lincoln County Commissioners passed a levy of 30 cents per $1,000 valuation in June. (e.g. The owner of a home with an assessed value of $300,000 would pay $90 per year for three years.)
- A group of citizens banded together to get enough signatures to refer that decision to a public vote.
- That means it's up to the citizens of Lincoln County to decide if they want to foot the bill for an estimated $2.4 million to fund improvements to roads and bridges, according to Lincoln County Auditor Sheri Lund.
"It's $2.4 million to the county, and then we would send 25 percent of that to the cities," Lund said.
What will the opt out fund?
Commissioners in the June meeting where they initially brought up the levy discussed adding roundabouts to two Lincoln County intersections:
- One at 271st Street and Cliff Avenue,
- And another at 273rd Street and 472nd Avenue.
Each Lincoln County city will also get some extra cash to spend on road improvements at the local level.
The levy got final approval from the commission on July 6, and it was referred in early August.
How did this end up on the ballot?
A referendum is a way to take a decision made by public officials and refer it instead to the public at large.
The group behind this referendum was led by Betty Otten, who also led the campaign to vote down a bond to fund a new jail in Lincoln County last year.
- They collected 2,273 validated signatures, just 19 more than needed to get something referred to a public vote.
Otten said her opposition to the measure lies both in the tax increase itself and the decision to add roundabouts, which she said are a type of intersection most people dislike.
She also criticized the commission for holding its meetings in the mornings.
"If they knew that they had to pass this levy, why not prepare everybody ahead of time and have some of these meetings at night?" she said.
What does this mean for taxes?
If the measure passes, here's what'll happen:
- Taxes will be impacted for all Lincoln County residents.
- The increase will be 30 cents per $1,000 taxable valuation. The taxable valuation is determined by the county equalization department, which looks at a variety of factors to say what a given house or property is worth.
- For example, a $300,000 home would see a tax increase of $90 per year for the next three years. A $200,000 home would see a $60 annual increase.
If the measure fails, the county commission will have to go back to the drawing board to look at how to fund road improvements.
What happens next?
The election runs 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5.
Where can I vote?
If you live in Lincoln County and are a registered voter, you are eligible to vote.