LB 87 (1999) - Joint Public Agencies


In an era when the trend was fewer not more local governments, LB 87 (1999) seemed somewhat out of place at first glance.  Legislative Bill 87 was sponsored by Senator Bob Wickersham, chair of the Revenue Committee, and was actually a second attempt from a bill introduced a year earlier.  LB 1089 (1998) was advanced by the Revenue Committee and placed on General File on March 2, 1998.126  LB 1089 was designated a Speaker priority, but the session ended before the measure could be debate.


The subject of both LB 1089 and its successor LB 87 was the creation of a new type of political subdivision called a joint public agency.127  The idea was to give existing political subdivisions and state agencies another possible avenue for cooperation on joint projects, somewhat similar to interlocal agreements.  Under the Joint Public Agency Act, as created by LB 87, a school district, for instance, could form a joint public agency with a municipality (inside or outside Nebraska), a state agency, or even a federal agency.  Whatever the combination of joining parties, the legislation would not create any new property tax authority.  The levy limits would still apply and there would be no levy exclusion for such entities.  If a city and school district formed a joint public agency, for example, their combined property tax authority would have to cover the new entity.


The joint public agency would be allowed to own property, make contracts, employ workers, and otherwise enjoy the benefits of a governmental entity.  The agency would have its own board, would have the option to hire an executive director, would be subject to the open meeting laws, and would be subject to the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act.  The agency may also issue bonds if doing so was consistent with the agreement between the parties that formed the new political subdivision.128


LB 87 amended the school finance laws only in one area and that was related to the spending lid exclusions available to school districts.  Prior to LB 87, a K-12 or high school only (Class VI) district was granted the authority to exceed the local system's allowable growth rate for expenditures in support of a service that is the subject of an interlocal cooperation agreement or a modification of an existing agreement.  LB 87 expanded this section of law to include joint public agencies.