Lower Elkhorn NRD Budgets Conservatively Using Less Than ½ of Tax Levy

Lower Elkhorn NRD Budgets Conservatively Using Less Than ½ of Tax Levy


NORFOLK, Nebraska – The fiscal year 2021 budget for the Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District (LENRD) reflects projects and programs that will protect our future while fully leveraging local taxpayer dollars as efficiently as possible.

“We continue to maximize the use of our local funds by bringing in grants for our projects and saving the taxpayers millions of dollars," said LENRD General Manger Mike Sousek. "The total operating budget is estimated at $13 million, with only $4.5 million in revenue from the property tax levy.”

Sousek continued, “The citizens of this district receive almost a 75 percent return on their investment. We’re working for you, our local taxpayers, to keep the levy low as we’re currently using less than ½ of our taxing authority.”

The operating budget was approved by the LENRD board of directors at their Sept. 10 meeting with a tax request of $4,512,659. The estimated levy, based on the property tax request, is 2.436 cents per $100 of valuation, which is a slight increase from the fiscal year 2020 levy of 2.370 cents per $100 of valuation. For example, if a person owns a $300,000 house, the taxes owed to the LENRD would have been $71.10 in 2020 and will be approximately $73.10 in 2021.

Some of the major expenditures for FY 2021 are: Levee and Flood Protection Projects - $1,903,150 which includes the City of West Point’s Flood Control Levee, the City of Randolph’s Flood Risk Management Project, and the Elkhorn River Jetty Project near Scribner; Water Resources Programs - $543,025; Project Construction, including flood related repairs - $1,310,250; and Conservation Cost-Share programs, including the Bazile Groundwater Management Area Project and Willow Creek Best Management Practices - $550,000.

The LENRD received Watershed Flood Prevention and Operations (WFPO) funding from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to complete the Maple Creek Watershed Plan to evaluate potential flood prevention, watershed protection, and agricultural water management projects. Four communities are located within the watershed:  Leigh, Clarkson, Howells, and Nickerson. The LENRD is also moving ahead with the Battle Creek Watershed Improvement Project Work Plan – Environmental Assessment (Plan-EA) to address flood reduction in Madison County.

The LENRD received a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) to expand groundwater monitoring in Pierce County. Maintaining a safe drinking water source is one of the most important priorities of the LENRD. The Bazile Groundwater Management Area (BGMA) also received a grant from NET for year 2 of their demonstration sites for the groundwater nitrate reduction project. This project is a vital step forward in stabilizing, and eventually reducing, nitrate levels within the BGMA.

Sousek added, “Through these projects and studies, we’re proud to give the funds back to the local taxpayers. We’re working very diligently to be responsible with our budget as we continue to meet the challenges of protecting our natural resources for the future.”

The LENRD provides conservation benefits across all or parts of 15-counties in northeast Nebraska, including:  water quality and quantity programs such as groundwater management, flood control, and nitrate management; as well as erosion control, cost-share to landowners who apply for conservation practices, recreation areas and trails, urban recreation and community forestry programs, and many other benefits that protect our natural resources.