Mayor Chris Beutler today said final property valuation numbers are $949,000 higher than projected, and those additional funds will be set aside to invest in City streets.
"The new biennial budget includes $65 million a year for street maintenance and construction," Beutler said. "Since 2010, we have increased our investment on streets by 58 percent. At the same time we know that we have a long way to go. I've been going door to door recently, and that is the message I frequently hear from our residents. And that's what was confirmed by the Lincoln Citizens' Transportation Coalition. We are working to implement many of the Coalition's recommendations. But we still have a big gap in street funding. It's important that we continue to look for every possible way to maximize investment in our streets."
The budgeting process requires the City to project some revenues and expenses. The Mayor said the City's practice of making conservative projections has protected taxpayers. Last month, the Mayor announced that the City was able to add $2.8 million for streets over the biennium as the result of health insurance rates that came in less than we projected.
"To further protect taxpayers, we will defer to mid-biennium any decision on whether to spend the nearly $1 million annual for streets," Beutler said. "The reason has to do with another projection, this one on sales tax revenue, which funds about 42 percent of our tax-funded budget. Our proposal is to set aside the funds until we know whether we will meet our sales tax projections. If we do not meet the projections, the funds will be used to prevent budget cuts. If our sales tax revenues do come in as projected, we are more than confident that we can invest those funds in our streets."
Beutler said the funds would probably be directed toward arterial and residential street rehabilitation and preventative maintenance strategies, like the sealing projects the City has been doing all summer to fix the streets and extend their life.
The City Council is scheduled to approve the 2018-2020 budget at its regular meeting Monday, August 20. Mid-biennium changes that would take place next August would also require City Council action. The City budget is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: budget20).