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CITY OF LINCOLN   •   NEWS RELEASE   •   FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date:
May 15, 2003

For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Kent Morgan, City-County Planning Department, 441-7491

MAYOR RELEASES INFRASTRUCTURE FINANCE REPORT

Mayor Don Wesely said the recommendations of the Infrastructure Finance Committee released today represent a new vision for financing water, sewers, parks and streets in existing and new areas of Lincoln.

“In the past, this City has been reactive, providing infrastructure after the growth already has occurred,” said Mayor Wesely. “What the Infrastructure Finance Committee has recommended is a pro-active approach of planning for the growth adopted a year ago in our Comprehensive Plan. Taking a pro-active approach will have a major positive impact on economic development, traffic and neighborhoods.

“For the first time ever, we are prioritizing the City’s capital improvement budget to reflect the Comprehensive Plan,”said Wesely. “The Committee has demonstrated how this pro-active approach can benefit all taxpayers by being more cost-effective for the City.”

The cost-saving measures identified in the recommendation include:

  • Grouping construction projects into single bids to encourage efficiencies.
  • Having the City Council use additional multi-year contracting.
  • Working with Lancaster County to acquire right-of-way in advance of development and to coordinate future street grades.
  • Using phased construction practices for arterials.

Financial options in the report include:

  • Periodically adjusting water and wastewater rates, using increased revenues to support bonding for needed facilities. Rate increases would be limited to no more than five percent a year, and rates would not be raised each year. The City would compare its rates with other communities to remain competitive.
  • Raising the wheel tax by $5 per vehicle in 2004, 2007 and 2010, resulting in a $15 increase over a seven-year period.
  • Instituting an occupation user tax on fuel of five cents a gallon, beginning January 1, 2004.
  • Proposing a $6 million bond issue for sidewalk maintenance in existing neighborhoods; a $96.5 million bond issue for street rehabilitation in existing areas and for new construction; and a $3.5 million bond issue for the trail system.
  • Continuing bond funding for watershed management.
  • Working with the Lincoln Public Schools to fund shared community space.

The Committee also recommends that the City continue to work with the Nebraska Legislature to receive a larger portion of state fuel tax revenues and that the City maintain a constant planning horizon of 12 years for infrastructure improvements.

The City will proceed with a 30- to 45-day period of public discussion about the recommendations. Members of the Committee and City staff will plan meetings with businesses, neighborhoods and civic organizations to present the recommendations.

The City of Lincoln began studying the issue of infrastructure financing in June 2000. Last fall, the City Council approved impact fees, which will provide partial funding for infrastructure needs. The Committee, appointed by Mayor Wesely in October, was charged with recommending a comprehensive solution to the infrastructure funding gap that remains after the implementation of impact fees.

Chairs of the Infrastructure Finance Committee were Brad Korell, Jan Gauger and Russ Bayer. Other committee members were Carol Brown, Jon Carlson, Linda Crump, Bob Hampton, Dan Marvin, Richard Meginnis, Jerry Schleich, City Council Member Terry Werner, the Rev. Dr. Otis Young and Larry Zink. Allan Abbott, Director of the City Public Works and Utilities Department, was an ex-officio member. Three work groups were formed to focus on the three areas of cost savings and efficiencies, finance, and legislation, and 47 area residents actively participated in the process.

“The Committee members represent the diverse interests in our City,” said Mayor Wesely. “They worked very hard to find a broad-based, balanced approach that will work for our community. They understand the importance of this issue for the future growth of Lincoln. I thank them for their time and expertise, and commend them on a job well done.”

By the end of this week, the public will be able to find the Committee’s report and make comments on the City’s web site, Some recommendations in the report, such as bond issues or rate and fee increases, would require approval of the City Council and/or the public before being implemented.

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