Papio NRD Crews Busy Assessing Flood Damage

Papio NRD crews are busy assessing the District’s levees, structures, and parks and trails for damage after Tuesday’s flooding in the Omaha metro.

While the water along the Papio Creek near 72nd & Q Street has receded, the amount of tree debris is surreal, as is the case in many other locations.

Papio NRD General Manger John Winkler says once the assessment is complete, repairs and storm cleanup will take place as quickly as possible in coordination with municipalities and various agencies.

While Tuesday’s flooding may have been a shock, Winkler says it wasn’t to the Papio NRD team. He says the Papio NRD’s system of flood mitigation reservoirs and levees built over the last 50 years were built for events like Tuesday’s and the infrastructure worked exactly as designed. When Mother Nature is in charge, Winkler says, nothing we build can be 100%.

Please know we understand this is a very trying and unsettling time for many. While the assessment and cleanup from the flood is a monumental effort, all parties involved are more than committed to getting our communities back in shape as expeditiously and safely as possible.

Everyone’s patience is very much appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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Vacancy on Papio NRD Board of Directors

A vacancy exists on the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District’s Board of Directors for the Director elected from Subdistrict #7.  The vacancy will be filled by the Board of Directors.  The person appointed must be a registered elector and reside in Subdistrict #7.  A map of Subdistrict #7 can be found at  https://bit.ly/subdistrict7 . The term of the office to be filled will expire in 2024.

Persons interested in being considered for appointment to this position should submit a letter of application to the District.  The letter must be submitted to the Board of Directors at the District’s principal office, 8901 S. 154th Street, Omaha, NE 68138, postmarked no later than September 29, 2022 or delivered to the District office by 4:00 p.m. on September 29, 2022. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please call John Winkler at 402-444-6222.

 

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.

Pedestrian Bridge and Trail Officially Open for Valley Residents

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD), City of Valley, DC West Community Schools, YMCA of Greater Omaha, and other community partners today celebrated the grand opening of Valley’s new pedestrian bridge and trail.

(From left to right) Papio NRD General Manager John Winkler, Past Board President of YMCA of Greater Omaha Ford Fischer, Former Congressman Lee Terry, Papio NRD Board of Directors Rich Tesar, Papio NRD Natural Resources Planner Eric Williams, Valley Mayor Cindy Grove, DC West Schools Superintendent Dr. Melissa Poloncic, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Omaha Rebecca Deterding

The 450-foot pedestrian bridge and trail provide a major community connection point that improves safety, recreation, and active transportation for Valley residents.

“The pedestrian bridge spans the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and East Reichmuth Road (old Hwy 275),” said Eric Williams, natural resources planner for the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District. “The City of Valley needed a solution to literally bridge the gaps between major parts of the community, especially a safe route that prevented kids from directly crossing the rail lines or walking on the highway overpass. The bridge and trail provide these safety measures as well as increased recreational opportunities. So, it’s a double win for Valley residents,” said Williams.

“The City of Valley is extremely excited to have the trail and bridge finally open,” said Valley Mayor Cindy Grove. “This has been a multiple year project and residents have been eagerly anticipating the opening. Being able to connect the YMCA with the school and south side of the community with a safe place for residents to walk and bike has been much needed for several years.”

Williams says the project is a great example of the power of community partnerships and one that came at no cost to Valley taxpayers. The total cost of the pedestrian bridge and trail is approximately $7 million, with a majority of the cost from federal transportation funding, and the remaining contribution from the Papio NRD.

 

“I am entering my ninth year as superintendent and this is a project that was in planning when I arrived,” said Dr. Melissa Poloncic, superintendent of DC West Schools. “To see this large-scale project finally come together is really a wonderful thing for our community!”

“We are so excited for the completion of the trail and the impact it will have,” said Rebecca Deterding, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Omaha.  “This has been highly anticipated, and we look forward to it increasing access and collaboration between the YMCA, the school and the community.”

 

 

 

Papio NRD Names New Assistant General Manager

The Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District today announced the promotion of Amanda Grint to assistant general manager.

Grint, formerly water resources engineer, has worked for the Papio NRD for 15 years. She fills the position following the sudden passing of Marlin Petermann in December. Petermann worked for the Papio NRD for 47 years, the majority as assistant general manager.

Amanda Grint

“While the circumstances under which this position became available are extremely tragic and unfortunate, the District pulled together and immediately started the interview process,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “The District was quite fortunate to have extremely qualified and capable professionals apply for the position and it was a very competitive pool of applicants. We are very excited to work with Amanda in her new role and look forward to moving the District to new heights with her knowledge, expertise and experience,” said Winkler.

“I am honored to have been selected as assistant general manager for the Papio NRD,” said Grint. “It’s certainly a heartbreaking turn of events with the passing of Marlin. I’m grateful for the many things I learned from him and throughout my time at the District. I’m anxious to work on District projects on a deeper level that improve our communities and quality of life, such as flood mitigation, trails, conservation efforts, enhancing our natural resources, and forming public/private partnerships,” said Grint.

Grint received a Bachelor of Science in Biological Systems Engineering from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a registered Professional Engineer, Certified Floodplain Manager, and member of the Association of State Floodplain Managers and Nebraska Floodplain and Stormwater Managers Association.

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.

 

 

Grand Re-Opening of Lied Bridge & MoPac Trail

Repairs to damage caused by historic flood of 2019 complete

Recreation enthusiasts showed up in droves along the Platte River Saturday, July 3, to celebrate the official grand re-opening of the Lied Platte River Bridge and MoPac Trail, which were damaged by the flood of 2019. The Lied Platte River Bridge is the only crossing along the Platte River that connects Lincoln and Omaha by the MoPac Trail.

 

“It’s incredible to bring together people riding bicycles, other trail users, community leaders and groups, as well as partner agencies who helped us complete extensive repairs to the Lied Bridge following the flood of 2019,” said John Winkler, general manager of the Papio NRD. “Flood damage devasted this popular pedestrian crossing and lack of access to it was certainly felt. We’re thrilled to see it back in action so quickly,” said Winkler.

For the past two years, the Papio NRD has worked closely with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Lower Platte South NRD on four flood-related repair projects on the Lied Bridge and MoPac Trail.

 

Eric Williams, natural resources planner for the Papio NRD said the projects totaled over $525,000, a majority of which will be reimbursed by FEMA as part of disaster recovery assistance.

The projects included: removal of large debris from the bridge, removal and replacement of damaged parts of the fence and railing, repair and replacement of the ice breaker structures under the bridge, and reconstruction of the trail connecting link from Highway 31 to the east end of the bridge.

“It’s been a two-year project collaborating with the Papio-Missouri River NRD and the Lower Platte South NRD and we are super excited to be reopening the Lied Bridge and MoPac Trail after the devastating flood of 2019,” said Adam Johns, park superintendent III at Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “It’s great that visitors can once again enjoy the wonderful views of the Platte River that this bridge and trail have to offer,” said Johns.

“Sometimes we don’t know what we have ‘til it’s gone,” said Lower Platte South NRD Board Chair Deborah Eagan. “Losing access to the Lied Bridge brought tremendous interest from trail users who were anxious to see it repaired and reopened. Fortunately, the damage was able to be fixed in an effective and efficient manner.  We are excited to have this important local and national link to our trail systems restored.  Thanks to all who coordinated, cooperated and communicated to see this project finalized,” said Eagan.

(left to right) Eric Williams, Papio NRD Natural Resources Planner; Bill Oligmueller, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Regional Superintendent; Senator Rob Clements; Ron Nolte, Lower Platte South NRD Board of Directors; Jim Peterson, Cass County Commissioner; Janet McCartney, Cass County Commissioner; Deborah Eagan, Lower Platte South NRD Board Chair; Julie Harris, Bike Walk Nebraska Executive Director

 

The Lied Platte River Bridge, a former railroad bridge, was converted to bicycle and pedestrian access in 2001. The bridge and connecting trails are critical components of the Great American Rail-Trail through Nebraska. The Great American Rail-Trail is a project of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to create the nation’s first cross-country, multi-use trail, spanning from Washington, DC to Washington state.

“We cannot overstate the importance of having the Lied Bridge back open for bicycling,” said Julie Harris, executive director of Bike Walk Nebraska. “Not only is it a key connection for people riding locally between Omaha and Lincoln, the bridge also provides a regional connection to 120 miles of trail on the west and over 100 miles on the east, creating enormous potential for bicycle tourism in eastern Nebraska,” said Harris.

 

 

 

 

Dom’s Park Officially Open at Chalco Hills Recreation Area

Grand opening held Saturday for new playground in memory of four-year-old Dominik Walters

Hundreds attended a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, June 19, to celebrate the official grand opening of Dom’s Park at Chalco Hills Recreation Area. The new playground is in memory of four-year-old Dominik (Dom) Walters.

“We are absolutely thrilled to be able to share Dom’s Park with our family, friends, and community,” said Ryan and Tiffany Walters. “Seeing Dom’s Park completed, packed with children and their families, is incredible.”

Four-year-old Dom died in August 2018 after suffering a cardiac arrest while doing cannonballs off the dock with his father, Ryan. The Walters family – Ryan, Tiffany, Dom, and Nora (or Boon, as Dom called her) – frequently visited Chalco Hills Recreation Area to play on the playground equipment and explore the park.

To carry on the memory of their son, a few short months after Dom’s death, the Walters approached the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (Papio NRD) about the possibility of donating funds for the construction of a new playground (Dom’s Park) at Chalco Hills. The family felt Dom’s Park would be the perfect way to honor Dom’s legacy and provide a new facility that children throughout the community could enjoy.

The Papio NRD Board of Directors agreed and voted to approve cost share for the purchase and installation of the state-of-the-art playground facility. In May, Dom’s Park replaced playground equipment that was over 30 years old.

“It has been our privilege to work with Ryan, Tiffany, and Boon and to be a partner on this special cost share project,” said Papio NRD General Manager John Winkler. “The Walters turned unimaginable tragedy into a positive. Since Dom’s Park opened, to say it’s been a tremendous hit would be an understatement. Dom’s Park is an incredible tribute to Dom and gift to the Omaha community that will last for years to come,” said Winkler.

The cost of the Dom’s Park playground equipment and installation totaled $279,071. Through generous donations to the Dominik Walters Memorial Fund, including a matching grant of $76,464 from the playground equipment company, BCI Burke Company, the Walters family donated $105,000 to the Papio NRD.

Winker says the Papio NRD budgeted $125,000 for the purchase and installation of the equipment, but the Walters family surpassed its fundraising goal, leaving $97,607 total cost for the Papio NRD.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to every person who supported us in making Dom’s Park possible, said the Walters. “Chalco Hills was one of Dominik’s favorite places and we could not imagine Dom’s Park being located anywhere else. We are grateful beyond words to the Papio NRD for believing in our vision and helping make Dom’s Park a reality,” said the Walters.

Dom’s Park is located in the northwest corner of Chalco Hills Recreation Area near Picnic Area A.

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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