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Dakota City Infrastructure

Dakota City Fire Chief Clint Rasmussen poses for a photo with a fire hydrant on April 28. Dakota City voters on Tuesday were asked to re-establish the city's participation in a half-cent sales tax for fire station improvements. Early results indicated the tax measure was polling favorably. 

SOUTH SIOUX CITY -- Voters in South Sioux City will decide Tuesday whether to raise the local tax on various purchases.

A ballot measure calls for a half-percent increase in the northeast Nebraska city's sales tax, from 7 to 7.5 percent. 

Proceeds from the new sales tax would be divided among the city, county and school district for public safety needs, infrastructure projects and career education. The city estimates that the tax would raise roughly $850,000 over a 10-year-period. 

"The whole proposal is to avoid raising (property) taxes," South Sioux City Administrator Lance Hedquist said in August. "That is a real push of what's being discussed." 

Lance Hedquist

Hedquist

If it passes, the sales tax increase would go into effect in the spring. 

Under the proposal, the city would receive 76 percent of the funds, which would be used to pay off bonds for its new fire hall, and for infrastructure projects. The county and school district would each receive 12 percent of the revenues; the county would use its share for public safety purposes, while the school would use the money for workforce development and training. 

Two other cities in Dakota County also will consider sales tax increase as part of Tuesday's election.

Six months after Dakota City inadvertently canceled its participation in a Dakota County half-cent sales tax for fire station improvements, voters will be asked to reinstate it. 

The measure would effectively raise Dakota City's overall sales tax to 6.5 percent. Currently, the city's tax rate sits at 6 percent. 

In May, the city passed a half-cent city-wide sales tax for improvements to fire hydrants, catch basins and street panels. Unbeknownst to city officials at the time, Nebraska Department of Revenue guidelines do not allow county-wide sales taxes to be levied on items sold within cities that already impose their own sales tax. 

The city's decision to levy its own tax cancelled its participation in the county-wide half-cent sales tax, which was passed in November 2014 to pay for repairs and updates to fire department facilities in Dakota City, Emerson, Homer and Hubbard. The county-wide sales tax will cease to be collected in Dakota City on Jan. 1 if the measure does not pass. 

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Even if the measure fails, Dakota City will remain obligated to its responsibility in the county-wide sales tax, and the city may be forced to turn to property tax revenues to make up the shortfall. If it passes, the new measure is expected to go into effect a few months after the other city-wide tax, which will leave a gap in between the city's participation in the county-wide tax ending and the city's re-starting its participation in the sales tax.

In Tuesday's election, voters in Hubbard will consider a 1.5 percent in the village's sales tax increase, from 5.5 to 7 percent. Two-thirds of the added proceeds would be devoted to municipal street, sewer, water and storm water infrastructure projects. The other third of the revenues would be earmarked as the village's contribution to the Dakota County sales tax. 

The South Sioux City and Dakota City sales tax measures would affect clothing, household supplies, electronic and prepared food and drinks. Exempt items include medicines, gasoline, some agricultural supplies and motor vehicles.

In South Sioux City Tuesday, voters also will elect a mayor, four city council members and three school board members.

South Sioux City Mayor Rod Koch is running unopposed. Lupe Gonzales had announced earlier this year that he would oppose Koch. In June, Gonzalez was named to fill a vacancy on the city council and withdrew his mayoral candidacy, leaving Koch the sole candidate. 

Eight candidates are running for four at-large positions on the South Sioux Council: incumbents Dennis Nelson, John W. Sanders, Bruce A. Davis, and challengers Michael E. O'Brien, Gary Hallstrom, Randy Meyer and James Gunsolley. 

Three candidates are running unopposed for three seats on the South Sioux City School Board: incumbents Marcia Mahon and Kevin O'Dell and Robert R. Rapp. 

In Dakota City, three candidates are seeking two at-large seats on the City Council: incumbents Andy Backman and James Varvais and challenger Ronald L. Haase. 

There is only one contested race for a Dakota County office. Three candidates -- Republican Janet Gill, Republican Troy Launsby, Democrat Ron Hartnett and Democrat Larry Albenesius -- are competing for two seats. The only competitive race in Dakota County is two at-large county commissioner seats.

The following incumbents are running unopposed Tuesday; Republican Jeff Curry, county assessor; Democrat Kimberly M. Watson, county attorney; Republican Joan Spencer, county clerk; Democrat Phyllis J. Obermeyer, clerk of the district court; Democrat Robert J. Giese, county treasurer; Democrat Louvontree Hunter, public defender; and Republican Chris Kleinberg, county sheriff. 

No candidate filed for Dakota County surveyor. 

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