Two candidates, both under age 40, are challenging incumbent Bill Henry for the Dist. 3 seat on the county commissioners. Dist. 3 is the south and west parts of the county.
The challengers are Chance Nutter of Hershey and Ryan Sellers of North Platte. They, like Henry, are Republicans, so the winner of the primary election will win the four-year seat.
In anticipation of the May 15 election, we asked Henry, Sellers and Nutter to answer the same questions.
BILL HENRY, 79
9520 S. Sierra Dr.
North Platte, NE
“Somewhat retired” from feeding cattle (Art Henry and Sons feedlot) as well as operating a trucking company and a forage harvesting business.
In addition to my fourth year as a commissioner, I’ve been on the board of All-Points CoOp for 22 years, and chairman for six years. I”ve been on the board of Dawson Public Power District for 30 years, and a number of boards with my church. I was president of Dist. 3 rural school near Sioux Lookout for 12 years. These are the type of boards that lend good credence to the commissioner’s job.
If re-elected, what would you like to see happen?
I feel pretty good about the way the county is running. However, two big projects need doing.
• Reconstruction of South River Road. I feel like we are getting closer. We can do it; we have to play by the rules of the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency. We have been put off, but we think it will come through. For us to do it without NEMA, it would take so much of our budget. We think were are nearly lined up. Hopefully this summer work will begin.
• A new North Platte River Bridge at Sutherland. Once No. 1 on the list of priorities for state funding, a bridge collapsed that spring over the Missouri River and had to be replaced. They said it would be another 1-2 years, but it’s been longer than that. We should be there (No. 1 on the list) next year; we’ll know when we are.
Both projects are too cost prohibitive for the county to pick up the tab.
How to address high property taxes?
Obviously, the commissioners are not policy makers. We are a management board. But we have too few paying too much. And, we have an imbalance in three taxes – sales, income and property. Property owners are expected to pick up too much of the tab.
It’s not right. Our ag people cannot continue the property tax support to the level they are.
The county levy amounts to 10-12% of total property taxes in the area (schools, city, NRDs, college, etc.) but it’s still an item. I think we are very frugal, we are running pretty efficiently. Our mil levy at 0.268 is well below state average and lower than virtually every county around us.
Other issues to address?
• Courthouse security. I think my thoughts are well-known (strongly support.) When it comes to human safety, I’ll do what I can to keep everyone who comes in good shape, so they are going home in good shape.
• NCORPE. We have made huge headway there, but it’s still an item. They are paying ‘in lieu of’ taxes, and they agreed to pay them. We rejected their appeal to be tax exempt, and TERC (state Tax Equalization and Review Commission) ruled in their favor. Now, they have agreed to pay ‘in lieu of’ taxes, which is great. Our past problems are resolved with that. But we have no absolute assurance going forward.
• Roads. With late winter storms, we have had some roads plugged up and now we have some maintenance to do. We do the best we can with what we have. The last two years, we have been able to spend a little more to update more machinery. We had to back off equipment purchases for awhile before. This winter has been tough on the road budget and blacktop roads. We have found major damage from the weather, some blacktop is deteriorating faster than expected.
Family: My wife Sharon is my mainstay, greatest advocate and a great woman. Of three children, two are involved in agriculture in the area. Son Mike (wife Gladys) bought Art Henry and Sons feedlot. My daughter Chris and her husband Ryan Schultis ranch in McPherson Co. Daughter Suzanne is a psychologist in Kansas City. She is married to Ryan Heflin. And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I have eight grandchildren.
RYAN SELLERS, 38
Lives south of Lake Maloney
Occupation: I run a 400-cow ranch and have rental properties. I also operate 5 Star Pawn in North Platte and sell new 4-Star and Sundowner trailers.
I am a lifelong resident of Lincoln County and have been in business in the county for 19 years.
Throughout this time, I have worked with different local officials in a very professional manner. I am currently serving my third term as chairman of the Lincoln County Republicans and I am honored to be endorsed by state Sen. Mike Groene.
Also, I was invited to be on an advisory board for the North Platte school district, when the district was making some changes a few years ago.
If elected, what would you like to see happen?
Property taxes have to go down. Over the last four-year period, the county budget has nearly doubled from $23 million to more than $40 million. This dramatic increase is ridiculous and must be reversed. The board of commissioners should also be more accessible to the public.
Spending needs to be reined in, drastically. The residents of Lincoln County cannot be burdened with such extreme spending.
Courthouse security needs to be handled by our locally elected sheriff.
NCORPE just made the news again, with our current commissioners letting them off the hook for the taxes they owe, without any discussion. The county attorney even told them twice they should call NCORPE’s attorney to get him on the record clarifying some points of interest. They chose not to and proceeded.
We need someone on the board of commissioners unafraid to ask the tough questions. Our roads also need to be maintained in better condition than they currently are.
Family: Wife Candi and three sons.
CHANCE S. NUTTER, 38
8668 N. Birdwood Rd.
Occupation: Business owner, employed by Union Pacific Railroad.
I have 15-plus years experience in road construction of all kinds — everything from dirt work, to the laying of asphalt or concrete. I own and operate many of the pieces of the equipment our county workers use on a day-to-day basis.
If elected, what would you like to see happen in the county?
Road work is a huge issue that needs addressed. We have some roads and bridges that have been on the six-year plans for 20-plus years. The allocation of tax dollars and how we are putting them to use is something I think we could address. Tax reductions.
How to address property taxes
First, I would see how we have the tax dollars spent, do the research to see if the way they are now is just, and how we need to sharpen our pencil to make things better.
Our rural residents-farmers and ranchers pay dearly on property taxes. I’ve been speaking with them and I plan to research ways to make those cuts.
Other issues: The education and training of county employees.
Other civic activities
I enjoy spending time with and coaching youth sports programs. Spending time with our children now will make for better generations to come. I’ve also sponsored different charities and organizations.
Family: Children Gaven (14), Oliver (12), Eva (9). Fiancee Cheryl.