Mayor Chris Beutler today announced changes to his proposed budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, including the return of two arborists, three public service officers, evening hours at neighborhood pools and a StarTran program for low-income patrons. The Mayor is submitting his budget resolution today, and he said the changes reflect concerns from the community.
Mayor Beutler said the forestry reorganization was intended to help the City plant more trees while maintaining the pruning cycle for existing City trees. "The idea was that volunteers would plant new trees and help with pruning young trees," Beutler said. "We are not suggesting that volunteers do the kind of trimming done by seasoned arborists. Adding back two experienced arborists will allow us to evaluate how well the volunteer program is meeting our needs before we make any additional program changes."
The Mayor proposes to reinstate three of the 8.5 public service officer positions in the budget. The privatization of downtown parking enforcement is still planned. The three retained positions would help with parking issues in neighborhoods. "We do not want parking issues to impact the quality of life in our neighborhoods," he said.
A slower transition is being proposed for evening hours at Eden, Belmont, Air Park, Ballard and Irvingdale pools. Evening hours were to be shifted to swimming lessons and rentals. About $30,000 has been restored to maintain current hours at those pools that will not have lessons or rentals.
The changes will be financed by increasing the transfer from Special Assessment Revolving Fund from $3.5 million to $3.8 million.
The Mayor also is asking StarTran to restore the Ride for $7.50 program by making about $65,000 in cuts in administration. The Mayor had proposed increasing the monthly fee to $10. "Low-income residents have been particularly hard hit by the national recession and we want to make sure they continue to have access to the public transportation upon which they depend," Beutler said.
The public hearing on the proposed budget begins at 2:30 p.m. Monday, August 9. The City Council will vote on final changes to the budget Wednesday, August 11 and is scheduled to formally adopt the budget Monday, August 23. More information on the proposed City budget, including a prioritized list of all City programs, is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: taking charge).