AXTELL — The Tri-Basin Natural Resources District directors approved a fiscal year 2019-20 budget Tuesday that includes a property tax asking increase.

The property tax asking for FY2020 is $1,105,311.38, compared to $909,228.67 for FY2019.

Because valuations for the district, comprised of Gosper, Phelps and Kearney counties, aren’t final yet, the property tax levy won’t be set until next month. A public hearing is set for the next board meeting at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Tri-Basin office in Holdrege.

The budget approved Tuesday includes projected disbursements and transfers of $2,444,303.97 and $917,503.25 in cash reserve.

Tri-Basin General Manager John Thorburn said the main reason for the higher property tax asking is that cash reserve funds were used to purchase the old National Guard armory in Holdrege as an equipment maintenance and storage building and there is a need to replenish the reserve funds.

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Other needs in the coming fiscal year may include costs for a Sand Creek groundwater recharge project in eastern Kearney County and a Platte-Republican Diversion Project in Gosper County.

In other business, the board:

- Set public Sept. 10 public hearings on groundwater quantity proposals in two eastern Kearney County townships where there have been groundwater declines. The questions are whether Eaton Township should be under Phase 2 NRD rules that require all irrigation wells to have flowmeters and if May Township should be placed under Phase 3 rules that could require water use allocations.

- Was told by Thorburn that two easements have been finalized for water-check structures in Sand Creek, so final designs on the groundwater recharge project are proceeding and project bids likely can be sought this fall.

- Was reminded of a joint meeting Monday with Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District officials to work on details of an agreement that may expand the NRD’s new Water Conservation Incentive Program to CNPPID customers with fields that can comingle surface water and groundwater for irrigation.

- Approved an agreement with the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture to have Tri-Basin hold the easement on a Loomis area property owned by Ducks Unlimited. The field is part of a pilot project to restore the wetland hydrology and eventually to sell the site to a private landowner with the wetland-related easement in place.

In addition to the wildlife habitat and the landowner’s ability to farm the wetland acres in dry times, the project benefits include groundwater recharge and flood abatement.