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2009 Media Releases

January 6, 2009
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831

Special Olympics 2010 USA National Games also priority

Mayor Chris Beutler today said infrastructure funding will again be the City’s top priority in the 2009 State legislative session that begins tomorrow. Lincoln Senator Amanda McGill will again introduce the Urban Growth bill, an infrastructure funding tool that would allow a city to create one or more urban growth districts near the edge of the community.

“Our Urban Growth bill is a tool that requires no new State dollars,” Beutler said. “As I told the Urban Affairs Committee last year, it is a local solution that will help us help ourselves in closing the funding gap.”

The bill would allow the estimated sales tax revenues generated within the urban growth district or districts to be pledged for debt service on an “urban growth bond.” The proceeds of the bond would used to fund a broad range of infrastructure needs, including roads. The bonds would be backed by the City’s general taxing authority.

The Mayor said McGill did a great job last session of moving the bill through the Urban Affairs Committee without a negative vote and securing a Speaker Priority designation for it. “This session, our goal is to take that final step and enact this important bill into law,” Beutler said.

The annual Community Consensus Meeting sponsored by the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce helped shape the City’s legislative priorities for 2009. Beutler said that during the meeting, funding for the Special Olympics USA National Games, which Lincoln will host in July 2010, emerged as another major priority for the City.

“The event offers us an unprecedented opportunity to showcase our community on a national stage,” the Mayor said. “With that, however, also comes the responsibility to provide these remarkable athletes and their families the experience they deserve, and that will take a significant fund-raising effort. We are seeking dollars for the Games from the federal government, which has historically supported similar events. Our Lincoln delegation will now be working to secure dollars at the State level – dollars that will be recouped in large part by the sales tax revenues this event will bring to our State.”

Beutler thanked those who have joined the Founders Club by making $25,000 contributions to the Games. He also thanked Lincoln Senators Tony Fulton and Danielle Nantkes for their work on the issue through their membership on the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee.

Beutler said the City also supports the efforts of Lincoln Senator Bill Avery on a bill to implement Amendment 1 passed by voters in May 2008. The Constitutional Amendment allows entities like Lincoln’s Community Health Endowment to diversify its investments to include stocks. But the amendment was not “self-executing,” and passage of the bill is needed before the Endowment can take actions.

“Since its creation in 1998, the Endowment has funded about $11 million in health-related initiatives across the City,” Beutler said. “By diversifying its investments, the Endowment believes that it will be able to significantly increase its average annual returns, resulting in more non-tax dollars available for community grants.”

Also on the legislative priority list are a bill that would allow cities to use cameras to enforce traffic laws and a bill that would allow cities the size of Lincoln to create a separate transit authority. The authority would have the ability to raise revenues and determine routes.

The Mayor said the City also will monitor several other issues closely:

  • The Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s State Infrastructure Bank bill, which would create a revolving fund for large-scale infrastructure projects.
  • Potential road bills that could result in more funding for cities and counties.
  • Research incentives that would support Lincoln’s Innovation Campus, the University of Nebraska’s research and development park that will be located on the State Fairgrounds.

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