REFINANCING OF COUNTY JAIL BONDS ON FAST TRACK TO BEAT GOP TAX LAW CHANGES

Local elected leaders are racing through a bond refinancing approval process for county jail bonds in order to keep tax perks that could be eliminated next year by proposed Republican tax law changes. Under the current Republican proposal, the tax-exempt status on some refinanced government bonds will not be available after Jan. 1, said Scott Keene, vice president and managing director with Ameritas. That tax-exempt status makes the bonds attractive to some investors and can be sold with a lower interest rate. Refinancing the county jail bonds, with the tax-exempt status, will save Lincoln property taxpayers between $4.2 million and $5 million over the next 10 years, or about $440,000 to $540,000 a year. The county had already begun the process for refinancing the bonds before the new tax law proposal came up, Keene said. But staff is speeding up the process, driven by the GOP tax plan. The goal is to get the refinancing package approved by the County Board, the Lincoln City Council and the Jail Joint Public Agency by Dec. 4. The bonds could be on the market a few days later, well in advance of what could be a Jan. 1 tax law change, Keene said.