City of Lincoln
2005 Media Releases
“Our community demands effective and responsive public safety services. Our residents want outstanding parks, trails, and libraries. They also want new opportunities for jobs and growth. I am proposing a budget that accomplishes those priorities and does not raise the City property tax rate,” said Mayor Coleen J. Seng in releasing the proposed fiscal year 2005-2006 City budget.
Seng described the budget as “lean” and stressed there were no new spending programs. The City tax-supported operating budget will increase 2.3 percent over the current year, excluding the voter-approved storm bond and the additional 27th pay period. The proposed general fund operating budget will be $131 million. Seng complimented City department directors for their fiscal management. “We made tough choices and developed a plan that kept spending in check,” she said.
Last month, Lincoln voters increased the City property tax rate from 29.4 cents to 30 cents per $100 of assessed value when they passed the storm water bond. That voter approval increased the City property tax rate. This year, the calendar shifts one extra pay period into the budget, causing 27 pay periods instead of the normal 26. This occurs about every 11 years and adds $2.9 million to the budget for one year. The following year then will show only 26 pay periods for City employees.
The City’s property tax rate would remain level from last year under the Mayor’s proposal with the exception of the voter-approved storm sewer bond.
Seng said funding police and firefighter services was a high priority in developing the budget. “Lincoln has a low crime rate and outstanding emergency response. Our police, firefighters and paramedics are the reason, and they are key to maintaining a safe and livable community for families.” Mayor Seng said quality of life amenities such as parks, pools, libraries and trails are preserved in the budget. Libraries and pools will be open the same number of hours as this summer.
“Creating the climate for the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and private business to create jobs is a primary focus of my administration. We must continue our policy of investing in the Capital Improvement Program to attract new employers. My budget maintains funding to the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and designates construction funds to extend sewer lines to the 800-acre industrial park near Interstate 80 and Northwest 48th Street,” Seng said.
The budget proposes $588,229 in service reductions to offset the increased costs of higher fuel prices and the new obligation for the State Fair local 10- percent match and to avoid the need for increasing the City property tax rate. A total of 17.9 full-time equivalent positions, which include a number of part-time and full-time jobs, would be eliminated from the budget. No uniformed police or fire personnel would be reduced. “We had to make tough choices to maintain key essential services and still keep taxes low,” Mayor Seng said. Seng noted that she is discussing the annexation of the State Fair with State and Fair officials.
“We started this budget process facing a funding gap of more than $8 million. After a lot of hard work and consultation with the City Council, I am proud to propose a balanced budget that protects taxpayers, funds essential public safety services and priorities that matter to Lincoln residents, and moves forward our community vision of the future,” Seng concluded.