Plan Aims to Keep Tax Dollars Out of the Sewer

With the financial weight of a federally-mandated sewer project bearing down on the metro, State Senator Heath Mello says he'll take a proposal to the legislature to help ease the burden.

The mandate is in the form of the combined sewer overflow project.

Mello released his plan Tuesday stating, “Omaha’s unfunded federally mandated CSO project has become a significant economic hurdle over the past five years and the state needs to step in and provide some much needed relief. This legislation will not only help the greater Omaha-area address the more than $3 billion CSO project, it will also assist smaller communities throughout the state in meeting their unfunded federally mandated sewer

The plan is similar to legislation Mello introduced in an earlier bill two years ago. The proposal would utilize a sales tax turn-back mechanism similar to legislation that helped fund the CenturyLink Center and other major capital projects.

Under the plan, the portion of state and city sales taxes levied on increased sewer fees for the project would be returned to the City of Omaha. The city would then be required to use the turn-back funds to finance the project and reduce future sewer fee increases.

The bill also creates a fund to help smaller Nebraska municipalities pay for federally-mandated projects, and diverts a percentage of the combined sewer overflow (CSO) turn-back sales taxes into that fund.

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