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Gering taxpayers find some relief this year
September 16, 2016 Jerry Purvis   

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At their Monday meeting, members of the Gering City Council approved the 2016-2017 budget, which resulted in a drop in the tax levy for the first time in 12 years.

The levy set by the city is 28.8, down from last year’s 29.9. That translates into a total tax request of $1,313,000, compared with $1,320,279 last year.

While Gering saw a slight drop in the levy, the city’s overall property valuation was slightly up, $14,000 over last year. The upcoming budget year’s valuation is $454,809,386.

“The overall citywide budget did increase 2.5 percent,” Gering City Treasurer John Mejia said. “But when we look at the general fund and enterprise activities, the increase was actually 1.18 percent. With the cost of living increasing at 1.1 percent and with the increase in the cost of insurance, we were able to maintain at a pretty good level.”

A 2015 breakdown of the property tax levy for Scotts Bluff County as they apply to Gering shows that 55 percent of those dollars went to support the school district. The county received 19.5 percent and 14.6 percent went to the City of Gering. Smaller amounts went to support the community college district, the airport authority, North Platte Natural Resources District, the county ag society and Educational Service Unit 13.

Council members also approved a conditional use permit that allows Gering convenience store owner Kent Ewing to build single family, smaller square footage “cottage” houses at 315 N Street, north of his Stagecoach Stop store.

The property is currently zoned for multi-family residential construction, so Ewing will meet with the city’s Board of Adjustment to work out variances to the city’s recommended lot and home sizes.

Ewing’s conditional use permit was to be considered at the council’s previous meeting, but he didn’t provide the city with a purchase agreement to show he had a legal property interest.

Gering Public Library Director Diane Downer also updated council members on a proposal to have a qualified architectural firm write a building program statement. The report would include an evaluation of the current library building and its space needs for future expansion, as well as current library services and future needs. The firm also would submit some conceptual designs and cost estimates for a new library.

The library board requested proposals in June for the evaluation and six proposals were received. After interviews were conducted in August, the board chose Joseph Hewgley and Associates, in association with Humphries Poli Architects to assemble the report.
The library board must now negotiate a contract with the firm before the work can begin.

The purpose of the study is to determine whether the current library building can be modified or if a new facility at a different site is more feasible.

Legion Park has previously been mentioned as a possible site for a new library building. However, the study will consider all options.
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