Kimball leaders respond to Governor's decision not to support funding for missile silo project
KIMBALL - The City of Kimball and the state of Nebraska are at odds when it comes to support of infrastructure funding for the expected Sentinel missile silo project.
In a Letter to the Editor of the Western Nebraska Observer this month, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen explained that he has not included Legislative Bill 712 in his budget, a bill that would provide state funding to the City of Kimball, Kimball County and several surrounding municipalities and counties.
"Tax cuts, investments in our kids, and a fiscally responsible state budget that limits growth to 1.3% over the next two years. Those are our priorities," Pillen wrote. "I want to assure those in Kimball and the Panhandle, the federal government will provide all necessary funds to undertake this missile project. The workforce camp will be located in Kimball, will be self-sufficient and will not need additional resources from the community to be operational."
Nebraska State Sen. Brian Hardin introduced LB 712 in the legislature in January to create the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Deployment Fund that would transfer $26 million to the fund from the state's Cash Reserve Fund.
Kimball officials disagree with Pillen's assessment. Kimball Mayor John Morrison explained none of the LB 712 money will be used for this workforce hub.
"LB 712 is for the estimated 3,702 indirect jobs that we have been told will come, about the population of Kimball County now," Morrison said. "This is why we need LB 712. As soon as possible, Kimball needs to update our existing infrastructure and add to it so that more housing and commercial buildings can be built."
Pillen says the need for LB712 doesn't exist based on the information he has been provided, but if it turns out there's a "legitimate financial need" associated with the project, it will be addressed.
"My team and I have had multiple conversations with United States military officials and their partners concerning costs associated with the workforce upgrading the missile silos in Nebraska," Pillen said in a statement to News Channel Nebraska. "Those representatives have said, and they stand by this -- additional funding is not necessary, either now or in the long-term."
Kimball City Council Member Christy Warner explained there are still decisions to be made. She believes that was spelled out in the Economic Impact Statement attached to LB 712.
"There are options to have the housing hub self-sufficient or not," Warner said. "There are choices to be made. LB712 isn’t about the housing hub directly. It is about addressing the infrastructure needed for the additional people and services that come with supporting any type of project this big. It’s unfortunate the Governor didn’t take more time to understand the nature of this project before writing a letter so pointed."
Mayor Morrison is hopeful about the future of LB 712.
"It is disappointing that Kimball and the panhandle aren’t being supported in our opportunity to grow the area. Kimball has our panhandle senators, especially Senator Hardin, supporting us and we are hopeful LB 712 will be passed."
Pillen says he "won't leave Nebraska communities behind."
"I understand the community's concerns," Pillen said. "I believe misinformation has been shared and that has led to confusion about the nature of this workforce and the resources required to support it."
City officials from Kimball and Sidney testified in support of the bill in Lincoln in late February.