City of Lincoln
2008 Media Releases
Mayor Chris Beutler today said the arena project in the west Haymarket area and increased funding for roads will be the City’s top priorities in this year’s 60-day State legislative session. The 100th Legislature’s second session began Wednesday. Beutler said the two issues emerged as priorities in months of meetings with a broad range of individuals and organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce.
"Our priorities as a community are clear – good roads, good jobs and good growth," said Beutler. "Funding for roads and a new arena are both key to our City’s ability to attract and retain quality jobs. Both are key to our continued growth."
Beutler said Senator Bill Avery of Lincoln will sponsor the arena funding bill, an amendment to last year's LB 551, known as the Qwest Center Bill. It would return to the City 70 percent of the State's portion of the sales tax revenue generated at a new arena, convention center and associated hotels. The other 30 percent would support similar projects throughout Nebraska. Beutler said the legislation is needed this year in order to bring the arena issue to a public vote in spring 2009. "If we expect to succeed, we need to ensure our community that we have a solid financial package in place," he said.
Beutler said several Senators have proposals to increase funding for local road needs. He has offered his assistance to the Speaker of the Legislature and the Chairwoman of the Transportation Committee on the issue. "The roads financing gap is not unique to Lincoln," he said. "Communities across the State face the same challenges, and the Legislature has taken notice."
In addition to supporting increased roads funding, the City will propose a new concept: a bill to give cities the authority to create urban growth districts on their edges. The estimated sales tax revenues generated within the district could be pledged for payment of an "urban growth" bond. Bond proceeds could be used to fund roads and other infrastructure Senator Amanda McGill of Lincoln will sponsor the bill. "We are not asking the Legislature for any additional money with this bill," said Beutler. "We are simply asking for another tool to help us help ourselves."
Beutler said another issue of key interest to the City of Lincoln is the future of the State Fair and the University of Nebraska’s proposed Innovation Park. "This is obviously a difficult issue, but I believe we can find a solution here in Lincoln that meets the long-term needs of both the State Fair Board and the University," he said. "At the Governor’s request, I have been meeting with the parties in an effort to find common ground, and I plan to continue those discussions as long as the parties are willing to do so."