Elkhorn River Access Sites to Close November 1

All good things must come to an end…at least temporarily. Darn you, winter!  

The Papio NRD will close all access sites to the Elkhorn River for the season on November 1st. The access sites include Elkhorn Crossing Recreation Area, Graske Crossing, and the West Maple Road access site. The access sites will reopen April 1st. See you next season.

 

 

 

Papio NRD Board Decreases Property Tax Levy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 9/15/23
Contact: Jennifer Stauss Story
Cell Phone 402-960-5329

Papio NRD Board Approves Proposed 2024 Budget

Decreases Property Tax Levy 

 

Omaha, NE: At its September 14th meeting, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) Board of Directors voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2024 general operating budget that includes a significant decrease in the Papio NRD property tax levy.

“After the first budget draft was discussed, I directed Papio NRD staff to find as many efficiencies as possible in the District’s general operations and vital programs to ensure the Papio NRD is only requesting the bare minimum from taxpayers without sacrificing our mission of protecting life and property,” said Kevyn Sopinski, chairman of the Papio NRD Board of Directors.

For 18 out of 19 years, the Papio NRD has either decreased or kept the property tax levy the same. This fiscal year’s total tax request is 1.8% above last year’s budget. The District will drop its property tax mill levy by 10% this fiscal year.

“We understand that historically high inflation and even higher county property valuation assessments are negatively impacting many of our constituents’ finances,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “Through methodical and conservative financial and operational management, refinancing and reduction of bonded debt, and securing over $20 million in grant funding, this budget allows the Papio NRD to lower its property tax levy to its lowest in over 20 years while simultaneously funding critical public safety projects,” said Winkler.

The Papio NRD’s FY24 property tax levy would drop to .031 per $100 of assessed valuation from the District’s FY23 property tax levy of 0.347 per $100 of assessed valuation. Under this budget, a homeowner in the District with property valued at $150,000 would pay $46.95 a year or $3.91 a month in property taxes next year to support Papio NRD projects, programs, and services. The budget calls for an estimated $30 million in revenue from the Papio NRD’s property tax levy. The total operating budget is estimated at $90.3 million.

Winkler said the Papio NRD’s budgeting philosophy is to only levy what is needed to adequately fund essential projects related to flood mitigation, conservation, erosion and sediment control, as well as the responsible management of Nebraska’s invaluable natural resources.

The property tax levy is based on an estimated 12.9% increase in valuations across the District, which includes all of Sarpy, Douglas, Washington, and Dakota counties, plus the eastern 60% of Burt and Thurston counties.

The Papio NRD receives less than 2% of all property taxes collected within the District’s six-county area. The remaining 98% goes to schools, cities, counties, and other taxing entities.

 

 

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Papio NRD Decreases Property Tax Levy

Board Approves Proposed 2023 Budget

At its September 8th meeting, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) Board of Directors voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2023 general operating budget that includes a decrease in the Papio NRD property tax levy.

“We realize that historically high inflation is negatively impacting many of our constituents’ finances,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “Through methodical and conservative financial management this budget allows the Papio NRD to lower its property tax levy while simultaneously funding critical public safety projects. This fiscal year’s total budget requirements, operating budget, and property tax levy are all lower than last fiscal year,” said Winkler.

For 17 out of 18 years, the Papio NRD has either decreased or kept the tax levy the same. The District will drop its property tax mill levy by 2.6% this fiscal year.

“The Papio NRD’s budgeting philosophy has been to levy only what is needed to adequately fund vital flood mitigation, conservation, erosion and sediment control projects, and the prudent management of our state’s critical natural resources,” said Winkler.

The Papio NRD’s FY23 property tax levy would drop to .0348 per $100 of assessed valuation from the District’s FY22 property tax levy of 0.357 per $100 of assessed valuation. Under this budget, a homeowner in the District with property valued at $150,000 would pay $52.14 a year or $4.34 a month in property taxes next year to support Papio NRD projects, programs, and services. The budget calls for an estimated $30 million in revenue from the Papio NRD’s property tax levy. The total operating budget is estimated at $80.1 million.

The property tax levy is based on an estimated 8.57% increase in valuations across the District, which includes all of Sarpy, Douglas, Washington, and Dakota counties, plus the eastern 60% of Burt and Thurston counties.

The Papio NRD receives less than 2% of all property taxes collected within the District’s six-county area. The remaining 98% goes to schools, cities, counties, and other taxing entities.

Omaha Beltline Trail Construction Expected to Begin in 2022

The Papio NRD is partnering with the City of Omaha to develop the Beltline Trail to provide recreation, active transportation, and access to natural resources to people within the District. The trail creates a connection from the intersection of Hamilton St. at Military Ave., to the North Omaha Transit Center.

The proposed trail alignment follows the former Missouri Pacific Railroad corridor and will be constructed in multiple phases. Phase 1 of the project was bid in the fall of 2021 and construction of this phase is expected to begin in 2022. The remaining phases of the project are outlined in the master plan.

 

Big Elk Lake & Portal Recreation Area Officially Open to the Public  

Omaha Tribe Holds Cedar Ceremony to Bless Flood Mitigation Reservoir Named in Honor of Chief Big Elk

 

Chief Big Elk – Henry Inman (American, 1801–1846), Onpon Tonga (Big Elk), 1830s, oil on canvas, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska, Museum purchase from the Edward R. Trabold and Lulu H. Trabold Fund with additional funds from the Durham Center for Western Studies Art Endowment Fund, 2011.2

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD), the City of Papillion, Sarpy County, and many community partners, today celebrated the grand opening of Big Elk Lake and Portal Recreation Area, Papillion’s two new flood mitigation reservoirs that provide flood protection for Papillion and Sarpy County citizens, as well as recreational benefits and green space.

The Papio NRD Board of Directors voted last June to name the Papillion reservoir, located near 108th & Cornhusker Road. Big Elk Lake in honor of Chief Big Elk, a principal leader of the Omaha Tribe. Portal Recreation Area is located nearby at 114th and Cornhusker Road.

To kick off the ceremony, Dr. Rudi Mitchell, the great-great-great grandson of Chief Big Elk of the Omaha Tribe, held a cedar ceremony (burning cedar on charcoal) to bless the lake and surrounding recreation area. Mitchell also read aloud the famous speech Chief Big Elk gave upon returning from a treaty negotiation in Washington D.C., where he warned his people of the impending flood of settlers that threatened Omaha homelands and lifeways.

Mitchell said he is very pleased with the recognition of his ancestor.

“Until today, there was no tribute to Chief Big Elk in Omaha, said Mitchell. “Big Elk was admired for leading one of the most peaceful tribes through many challenges. Through his speeches, trading, and peace treaties, Big Elk had a gift for peacefully bringing settlers and the Omaha tribe together,” said Mitchell. “This says a lot about the kind of leader he was and I’m grateful he will be remembered in an area of beauty and nature.”

Glenna Mitchell Slater, also a descendant of Big Elk and one of the few Omaha Tribe certified fluent language speakers and teachers, is touched to see the lake entrance monument bear Chief Big Elk’s name interpreted in the Omaha language: Oⁿpoⁿ Toⁿga.

“I want to thank the Papio NRD board for accepting my request to place our Chief Big Elk’s Omaha Tribal Indian name to be translated under his name on the entrance sign,” said Mitchell Slater.

While the primary purpose of the new reservoirs is to help protect the lives and property of citizens from floods, they also feature recreational amenities, such as walking/cycling trails, kayak/canoe launches, picnic shelters, park land, and fishery enhancements.

“Chief Big Elk is one of the most notable figures in Sarpy County history. He was fiercely protective of his people, but also known as a peaceful leader who valued alliances,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “Naming this flood mitigation reservoir in honor of him – a structure designed to protect the people of Sarpy County made possible through partnerships and surrounded by acres of beauty and peaceful natural resources – seems like a perfect way to commemorate all that Chief Big Elk stood for. It has been an absolute honor working with the Omaha Tribe on this special project,” said Winkler.

Papillion Mayor David Black said the city is excited for the completion of Big Elk Lake and Portal Recreation Area and thanks the Papio NRD for its continued commitment to providing vital flood protection to the area.

“In addition to the flood protection, the recreational opportunities these areas will provide are invaluable to our community,” said Black. “The City of Papillion values our long-term partnership with the NRD, and we are proud to bring these new areas into our park system,” said Black.

Big Elk Lake and Portal Recreation Area are now open to the public.

 

 

 

Papio NRD Decreases Property Tax Levy

Papio NRD Board Approves Proposed 2022 Budget

At its September 9th meeting, the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District Board of Directors voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2022 general operating budget that includes a decrease in the Papio NRD property tax levy.

“It is our fiduciary responsibility to save taxpayer dollars and we are proud the Papio NRD’s property tax levy will decrease again this year,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “For 16 out of 17 years, the District has either decreased (10 years), or kept the tax levy the same,” said Winkler. This is the Papio NRD’s lowest mill levy since 2015.

The Papio NRD will drop its property tax mill levy 2.25% this fiscal year. More importantly, even though LB 408, a bill to limit political subdivisions property tax spending, failed to pass last legislative session, the Papio NRD thought it extremely important to live up to the spirit and goals of the bill to control the growth of property taxes.

“Due to sound fiscal management; healthy and growing valuations and overall economy; as well as strong local, state, and federal partnerships, the Papio NRD is able to wisely conserve our financial and natural resources,” says Winkler.

The FY22 budget calls for a property tax levy of .035669 per $100 of assessed valuation, which means a homeowner with property valued at $100,000 would pay a total of $35.67 a year or $2.97 a month in property taxes next year to support Papio NRD projects. The budget calls for an estimated $28.2 million in revenue from the Papio NRD’s property tax levy. The total operating budget is estimated at $85.4 million.

The Papio NRD’s property tax levy utilizes less than two percent of a homeowner’s total property tax bill who lives within the District’s six-county area. The levy is based on an estimated 5.88% increase in valuations across the District, which includes all of Sarpy, Douglas, Washington, and Dakota counties, plus the eastern 60% of Burt and Thurston counties.

 

 

River Access Sites: Open or Closed? Check Here!

High river flows occasionally force the Papio NRD to temporarily close the river access sites for safety purposes. Park closures for Elkhorn River sites are called for when the Elkhorn River gauge at Waterloo reads a stage of 5 feet or greater. Also, river access ramps may need to be cleaned of silt, debris and safety inspected before reopening.

Here is the current status of Elkhorn River access sites:

CLOSED, will reopen April 1st, 2024

  • Elkhorn Crossing (intersection of 252nd & Bennington Road) – CLOSED
  • West Maple Road (West Maple Road northeast of Waterloo) – CLOSED
  • Graske Crossing (southeast corner of West Dodge Road & west of 204th) – CLOSED

 

 

Elkhorn River Access Sites to Open April 1

The Papio NRD will open all access sites to the Elkhorn River for the season on April 1st.

The Elkhorn River access sites include:

  • Elkhorn Crossing (intersection of 252nd & Bennington Road)
  • West Maple Road (West Maple Road northeast of Waterloo)
  • Graske Crossing (southeast corner of West Dodge Road & west of 204th St.)   

High river flows occasionally force the Papio NRD to temporarily close the river access sites for safety purposes. Park closures for Elkhorn River sites are called for when the Elkhorn River gauge at Waterloo reads a stage of 5 feet or greater. Also, river access ramps may need to be cleaned of silt, debris and safety inspected before reopening.

Are the Access Sites Open or Closed? 

You can find out whether the access sites are open or closed throughout the season here:

The access sites will be open from April 1 through November 1 from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

 

New Legislation Enables Local Entities Across Nation to Conduct Emergency Repairs Without Federal Funding or Action

Papio NRD championed new legislation following historic flood of 2019

Omaha, NE: Included in the large omnibus spending and authorizing package signed by President Trump Sunday night is Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) written and sponsored legislation allowing local sponsors throughout the nation to conduct emergency infrastructure repairs and receive reimbursement from the federal government.

Previously, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) was required to make flood mitigation infrastructure repairs, but if a local sponsor, such as the Papio NRD, conducted the work, then that sponsor was not eligible to have the project costs reimbursed.

The original process was costly on a variety of fronts, as following the flood of 2019, many levee systems went unrepaired for months, leaving people and infrastructure exposed to more flooding danger. The new legislation, championed by the Papio NRD, expedites emergency repairs and simultaneous federal funding on a national scale through authorizing language in the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA).

“This legislation impacts far more than just our District,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “Now, local sponsors across the country can start to repair vital flood mitigation infrastructure immediately following an emergency instead of waiting for federal action or funding. Typically, sponsors can do the work in one-third the time and cost than the federal government. We cannot thank our congressional delegation enough for its hard work and support,” said Winkler.

Winkler says additional good news to come out of the omnibus spending package is Congress’s first ever funding to the USACE Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program for water infrastructure projects.

The Papio NRD strongly advocated for this funding inclusion in both the House and Senate and worked closely with Nebraska’s congressional delegation, as well as governors from multiple states to enlist their support. Congress voted to provide $12 million for the program, which will enable USACE to begin issuance of ultra-low interest loans with very favorable terms to entities like the Papio NRD to more efficiently construct vital flood mitigation infrastructure.

 

 

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