- July 1, 2008
- For More Information Contact:
- Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
MAYOR EXPLAINS HOW BUDGET DECISIONS IMPACT CITY GOALS ACROSS DEPARTMENTS
Keeping libraries, recreation centers and pools open can help keep the community safe – the top outcome chosen by
residents during the PRIORITY LINCOLN budget input process. That was one example cited by Mayor Chris Beutler today
as he explained how budget decisions have an impact on the goals City government wants to accomplish.
“City government is divided into departments and divisions, but they do not operate independently,” said Beutler.
“Nearly every decision has an impact not just on that department, but on one or more departments. Budget cuts in one
area may harm vital goals in another. No one cut can be considered in isolation.”
Beutler said maintaining safety and security goes beyond police and fire protection and 911 services. The Police
Department and Lincoln Fire and Rescue (LFR) rely on the Health Department’s support when they have hazardous
materials incidents or bust a meth operation. LFR relies on Public Works and Utilities to make sure the water flow
is adequate to fight fires. Police Chief Casady said research shows that young people are most vulnerable to risky
behavior between 3 and 6 p.m., highlighting the importance of after-school activities. (A list of
other examples follows this release.)
“We are about to make a City-wide decision on what we spend and why,” Beutler said. “It is up to you to decide if
the impact on youth crime is worth funding our neighborhood swimming pools and libraries. It is up to you to decide
whether building roads is critical enough to the community that we need the attorneys in our Law Department to keep
the process flowing. It is up to you to decide whether re-vitalizing older neighborhoods to end crime is a reason to
maintain funding for the Urban Development Department.”
The Mayor said that at this point, City job cuts will total about 110 over two years. “Budget cuts have
consequences,” he said. “If we are to aspire to compete with cities across the nation, we must balance frugality with
quality of life, and practicality with high expectations.”
“NO ONE CUT CAN BE CONSIDERED IN ISOLATION”
Mayor Chris Beutler explaining how budget decisions
have impact across City department and division lines.
- Shading from trees can extend the life of street pavement. The planting and maintenance of street trees can
reduce street rehabilitation costs.
- Properly maintained public parks and open spaces can enhance the value of surrounding property, building the
tax base. Inadequately maintained parks can lower property values and can become locations for criminal activity.
- Recreational amenities such as trails and play fields encourage active lifestyles, reducing public health
- The Public Works and Utilities Department relies on the City Attorney’s Office to review contracts for
purchasing the rights of way needed for streets, water mains and other public improvements. About 150 Executive
Orders on construction projects need legal review every year, and City attorneys also draft agreements for private
development and re-development projects. Without adequate legal resources, these economic development projects
- The City Attorney’s Office is required to review and process about 250 tort claims filed against the City
every year. But with fewer attorneys in recent years, the resolution time has increased from two weeks to two
months, increasing public frustration and the potential for unnecessary litigation.
- Important updates to the City gas and mechanical code and the electrical code also have been delayed due to a
shortage of legal resources.
- With inadequate resources for the Planning Department, fire stations, parks, streets and other costly
infrastructure could be built where they are not needed. On the other hand, new infrastructure could be
inadequate for the amount of growth, leading to costly road expansions or the laying of parallel water lines.
- Without the long-range plans developed by the Planning Department, the City would not remain eligible to
receive more than $10 million per year in federal grant funds for street improvements and to help operate
- Summer reading programs keep students ready for school. Poor reading skills are a factor in unemployment,
which impacts the local economy, social services and the crime rate.