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2008 Media Releases


Date:
July 3, 2008
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Steve Hubka, City Budget Officer, 441-7698


MAYOR BEUTLER PROPOSES REVENUE INCREASE
City job cuts total 126 over two years

Saying it is this generation's turn to invest in the City’s future, Mayor Chris Beutler is proposing a one-cent increase in the City’s property tax levy as part of the 2008-2009 City budget. A family with a home valued at about $150,000 would see the City’s portion of its property tax bill increase $15 per year. The budget the Mayor will present to the City Council Monday, July 9 also includes a cut of 65 positions, equal to the job cuts included in the budget for the current fiscal year.

"I have shown my commitment to make City Hall smarter and smaller," Beutler said. "We have restored the community’s confidence in how City government is managed. But good management alone cannot provide a strong, safe and clean community.

“For the cost of only one bottle of pop a month, we can preserve our school’s police officer, the pools that serve our kids and the libraries that enrich our minds,” he said. “For one dollar and 25 cents a month, we can invest in our future and prepare for the generations that will follow.”

The proposed one-cent increase would be the first increase in the City’s property tax rate outside of a bond vote in nearly 15 years. The City property tax rate has dropped 44.7 percent since 1993-1994.

The Mayor’s proposed $135 million budget is a 2.6 percent increase over last year’s budget. With inflation over the last year at 4.2 percent, the tax-funded portion of City government will be reduced by 1.6 percent. The City property tax rate would go from $0.28788 this fiscal year to $0.29788 in 2008-09.

The City receives 14.3 percent of every property tax dollar paid, so the total property tax levy is determined by other taxing entities such as the Lincoln Public Schools and Lancaster County.

The Mayor outlined seven priorities in developing the budget:
  • Solve the budget for the long term.
  • Incorporate the results of PRIORITY LINCOLN citizen input process, part of the City’s transition to an outcome-based budget.
  • Reject the use of one-time money for ongoing operations.
  • Preserve public safety, the top outcome from PRIORITY LINCOLN.
  • Increase efficiencies through restructuring.
  • Address fixing structural imbalances between revenues and expenditures.
  • Prevent further decay of community assets and services.

Beutler said soaring fuel prices have increased City operating costs by $1.7 million over the last 12 months. Another challenge, he said, is that four of the six City union contracts are pending. Other factors increasing City expenses are the inflation rate, which is an annualized 6.1 percent over the last six months; unfunded mandates from state and federal governments; and increasing utilities costs. At the same time, the Mayor said, City sales tax revenue was down last year and has been growing at only 2.7 percent this year. Sales tax funds 42 percent of the City budget.

Since 1990-1991, Lincoln has seen a 27.6 percent increase in population and a 39.7 percent increase in area. At the same time, the City’s number of non-public safety employees has dropped by 74 positions.

“Further cuts to the budget could destroy the community services and assets that contribute to the high quality of life we have in Lincoln,” he said. “We can no longer cut our way to prosperity.”

Mayor Beutler will present his budget message to the City Council at 12:30 p.m. Monday, July 7 in the City Council Chambers. The presentation will be carried live on 5 CITY-TV, the government access cable channel.


Mayor's Office    Media Releases