In his State of the City address today, Mayor Chris Beutler said Lincoln is achieving its goals and becoming a "premier American city." He thanked City Council members and many others in the community for working with his administration as partners for the common good.
"Lincoln, Nebraska's success is not about the Mayor," Beutler said. "It is about all of us and what we can achieve when we lay down the word of political partisanship and knock down the barriers of personality conflicts and personal ambitions. It is about meeting our City's challenges with the consensus born of diplomacy and thoughtful compromise."
The Mayor cited the City's numerous national rankings for its high quality of life and outstanding business climate; the local companies that are continuing to invest in Lincoln; and the low unemployment rate. He said the City's new Development Services Center is cutting bureaucratic red tape, and the development of UNL's Innovation Campus and the construction of a new arena will spur even more development.
"The new home of Husker basketball and other entertainment opportunities will be the foundation for a great building boom," Beutler said. "The new arena will serve as a catalyst for a second wave of investment in the Lincoln Haymarket area with new businesses increasing our valuation base and creating new jobs."
The City continues to make progress on infrastructure as well, Beutler said, with more than 15 miles of resurfaced arterial streets and construction of the Stevens Creek trunk sewer project. "In July, we reached a significant milestone when over 700 homes and businesses in the core of our city were removed from the federal floodplain maps as a result of the Antelope Valley Project," he said. "The designation created even greater investment opportunities and saves the cost of flood insurance for many Lincoln residents and businesses."
The Mayor said the City's outcome-based budgeting process is setting the standard for other cities across the nation. And he said City Hall is now smaller and more efficient, with the elimination of nearly 120 jobs since he took office.
"We've pioneered consolidations and used technology to offer City services at less cost," Beutler said. "We worked with the City labor unions, and for the first time in over 30 years, reduced the City retirement match to employees. Three of the four unions voted to end the two-to-one match for new employees, recognizing that we all must sacrifice to help during tough economic times."
Beutler said public safety is the top priority of his administration, and thanked the Police and Fire departments for their work. Crime is down, the crime clearance rate is up and fire and ambulance response times are improving. The Stronger Safer Neighborhoods initiative is working to clean up problem properties, and the graffiti program has "allowed us to re-claim our neighborhoods from taggers."
Beutler said the City cannot rest on its laurels, but must continue to come together to work on projects like this summer's Special Olympics USA National Games. "If we can just continue to capture the collaboration and energy that made Lincoln's Games such a rousing success, then our ongoing challenges will simply become more opportunities for achievement," he said. "We must continue to strive for greatness and improve on all fronts. The hallmark of greatness is the continuing quest for progress."