URNRD bumping tax request to build reserves for more acreage retirement
In 2020, more than 9,000 idled irrigation acres in the Upper Republican Natural Resources District will come out of the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program retirement program.
Potentially, irrigation pumping could resume on those acres. That would force the district to find additional ways to offset any resumed pumping.
The district wants to provide enough financial incentive to entice landowners to permanently retire those acres. Right now, the district has built up $7.8 million in reserves just for that purpose.
In 2006, the Nebraska Legislature authorized NRDs in fully and over-appropriated river basins to collect an additional 3-cent tax levy for water management activities. The levy authority expires after the 2017-18 budget year.
URNRD Manager Jasper Fanning said they have been using levy to build up those reserves.
NRDs have levy authority of up to 8.5 cents per $100 of valuation, including the 3-cent levy. Fanning noted the URNRD has typically not requested the full levy amount, especially as ag valuations began to rise.