Sep 17 2023

Chamber Statement on Proposed SCC Levy Increase


The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Lincoln Independent Business Association, Nebraska Cattlemen, Nebraska Corn Growers Association, Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers Association, and Nebraska Soybean Association, together voice our opposition to the proposed 2024 Southeast Community College budget and associated levy increase. 

We have great concerns about SCC’s intention to increase its property tax levy at the same time property valuations are growing on average by 15 percent across its 15-county service area (more than 22 percent in Lancaster County). When coupled together, the levy and valuation increases will cause local property taxpayers to see an increase in their property tax bill of approximately 30% for the portion paid to SCC. 

Our organizations believe in fiscal restraint. We have all worked on tax relief. During the 2023 legislative session, the Legislature passed LB 243 which included a funding change for community colleges. Beginning in 2025, community colleges will no longer be allowed to levy a property tax for their general fund budget. Instead, the State will provide funding for the general fund of all six community college districts, including SCC. This change is in line with the funding of the University of Nebraska and Nebraska State College systems. 

Community colleges will still have authority to levy property taxes for capital construction. Additionally, the colleges will receive an automatic 3.5 percent funding increase annually from the State, determined by the baseline budget set for fiscal year 2023-2024. If community colleges see an increase in their student enrollment above 3.5 percent, they will receive additional funding to accommodate such growth. If the Community College Futures Fund created by LB 243 fails to provide the funds statutorily required, the boards of governors of the community colleges will be allowed to revert to assessing a property tax to fill the shortfall. 

SCC’s leadership has claimed the cost to taxpayers will be minimized because LB 243 includes a provision for refundable income tax credits to be claimed by taxpayers based on their 2024 property tax bill. However, this relief will not be extended to any business or family that rents or leases property. More importantly, all taxpayers in the state will be on the hook for nearly $20 million that will be growing at 3.5 percent annually; an obligation taxpayers in the state will pay for every year thereafter. Finally, it is important to note that the 2024 SCC budget as proposed would lead to unnecessarily excessive cash reserves simply held for future use.     

We all believe in the values that community colleges provide. They generate essential workforce and training across Nebraska – a critical need in our state. Building a strong, viable workforce for our communities now and in the future is paramount to growth in Nebraska. 

We recognize the essential role public entities like SCC play in promoting economic development and understand their inherent challenges to balance needs and available resources. This budget is the wrong approach though. It is not representative of a consensus that finds balance between the needs of taxpayers and the needs of SCC. 

SCC will be hosting a required meeting on September 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the City/County Building in Lincoln to discuss their 2024 budget. Taxpayers can attend to learn more about this property tax increase.


For more information, contact Chris Whitney, Communications Coordinator, Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and Visit Lincoln, at (402) 436-2376 or