Group to propose finance package beyond impact fees
The City of Lincoln has been studying the issue of infrastructure financing for several years. Impact fees have been proposed as a partial solution, but a financing gap remains. That gap will be addressed by a new Infrastructure Finance Committee named today by Mayor Don Wesely. The 14 community leaders on the committee will work toward a consensus on a realistic package for financing water, sewers, parks and streets in existing and new areas of Lincoln.
Chairs of the committee are Brad Korell, a Board Member and Past President of the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Lincoln Association and President of Wells Fargo Bank in Lincoln; Jan Gauger, former Lancaster County Commissioner and President of One More Time Consignment Sales; and Russ Bayer, past chair of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission and CFO and co-owner of Data Support Systems.
Other committee members are Carol Brown, Jon Carlson, Linda Crump, Bob Hampton, Dan Marvin, Richard Meginnis, Jerry Schleich, the Rev. Dr. Otis Young and Larry Zink (brief biographies are attached). The Lincoln City Council will also name a City Council member to the committee. Allan Abbott, Director of the City Public Works and Utilities Department, will serve as an ex-officio member.
"Our investment in infrastructure is one of the most important issues we face as we look toward the future growth of our community," said Mayor Wesely. "This committee is charged with finding a comprehensive solution to the funding gap that remains after the adoption of impact fees. The City is very fortunate to have these outstanding community leaders give us their time and expertise to guide us through the challenging process of finding a broad-based, balanced approach to financing our City's infrastructure."
In Lincoln, the growth costs traditionally have been negotiated on a case-by-case basis between the City and the developer. The system has drawn complaints from developers that it is inconsistent and concerns from those in established areas that the City pays too much of the cost for growth, thus reducing the money available to maintain aging infrastructure.
The committee will have three Work Groups, each headed by a committee chair. Korell will head the Financial Work Group, Gauger will head the Legislative Work Group, and Bayer will head the Efficiency/Cost Savings Work Group. The Work Groups will include committee members and community members selected by the committee with the Mayor's review and approval.
"I see this as one of the most important issues facing our community in determining our growth path for the future," said Korell. "I think we've got a great committee to guide this process forward and develop solutions that can be implemented. I look forward to getting started."
"The decisions made by our City at this time will have a major impact on the quality of life in our community far into the future," said Gauger. "My committee will examine the current State laws to see if changes are needed to allow Lincoln to pursue a more pro-active approach in financing our infrastructure."
"It is an honor to be asked to serve on this committee," Bayer said. "I look forward to working with the other members in putting together the business plan to help address not only the infrastructure gap which exists today, but also to insure infrastructure costs associated with future growth and development are funded appropriately."
The committee is scheduled to complete its work by June 2003, however several interim reports are due by mid-December 2002: a list of potential changes in State laws; initial findings on the efficient delivery of infrastructure; and future funding needs.
"Committee members will consider the impact their recommendations will have on businesses, neighborhoods, economic development efforts and residents at all economic levels," said Wesely. "Their priorities are financing existing infrastructure, major projects such as the Beltways and Antelope Valley, and infrastructure in growth areas."
A proposal to establish impact fees as part of an infrastructure finance plan had a public hearing before the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission September 18, and the Commission is scheduled to vote on the issue October 16. The issue of impact fees will not be revisited by the new committee. If adopted by the City Council, impact fees and additional infrastructure finance measures are proposed to take effect next summer.