Mayor Chris Beutler today said a proposed City Charter amendment by a special interest group that would require approval of any tax increase by "a majority of the registered voters" sets a standard that would be nearly impossible to reach. "Their language clearly states that a tax increase can only be enacted with a majority of registered voters, not a majority of voters who actually vote," Beutler said.
City Councilman Roy Christensen introduced the measure on behalf of Citizens for a Better Lincoln, a political action committee (PAC) financially supported by the Lincoln Independent Business Association (LIBA) PAC. The public hearing and vote to put the issue on the May 2017 ballot are scheduled to be on the agenda for the City Council meeting Monday, December 19, which begins at 5:30 p.m.
"Under this reckless proposal, the Pinnacle Bank Arena, arguably the City's most important economic development project of the last half century would not have happened," Beutler said, "even though 56 percent of voters cast a ballot in favor of it.
"Under their scheme, critical stormwater projects would not have happened, and flooding would be more common, costing business owners and homeowners millions of dollars. Nearly 60 percent of voters who voted for public safety improvements would have been ignored," Beutler said.
Since 2005, the majority of those who have voted in Lincoln have approved a bond issue for the Pinnacle Bank Arena, five bond issues for stormwater improvements and a sales tax increase to improve public safety. If the proposed Charter amendment had been in effect, none of those improvements would have passed, despite having a majority of the total votes cast in those decisions.
The Mayor's comments came two days after he outlined how the proposed Charter amendment could damage the City's triple-A bond rating and cost taxpayers millions more in interest. "Every day, we discover a new problem with the proposed Charter amendment that threatens the growth and progress of Lincoln," Beutler said.