Mayor Chris Beutler said the 2018-2020 City budget passed by the City Council today accomplishes his goal of investing in the future of Lincoln. "We are continuing to improve public safety, our top priority, with investments in new Police Officers, new Firefighters and new fire apparatus," Mayor Beutler said. "We are also able to make major investments in our streets and parks. And because of our strong economy, we are able to strengthen these vital public services without an increase in our property tax rate. This budget is the roadmap to build on our momentum and keep our City growing."
The City budget is available at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: budget20). The new fiscal year begins September 1. The total tax-funded budget is increasing from $184 million in the current fiscal year to $208.6 million in 2018-2019 and to $215.5 million in 2019-2020. The City's property tax levy will remain at 31.648 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
Mayor Beutler said about 56 percent of the tax-funded budget will be spent on public safety, and that percentage has increased every year of his administration. The budget adds 12 more Police Officers, including the six School Resource Officers and the threat assessment officer that were a part of the passed Safe and Successful Kids interlocal agreement between the City and Lincoln Public Schools. The City has applied for a federal grant to add as many as 15 additional Firefighters, and the budget includes the required grant match for those positions.
The budget would add up to 11 fire apparatus. The Mayor's proposed budget added about $2.3 million for up to five new fire engines/trucks and a new ambulance. (The proposal included using $1.0 million dollars left over from the quarter-cent public safety sales tax for fire apparatus, and that decision is pending.) The Council approved Council member Leirion Gaylor Baird's proposal to add another $2.5 million for apparatus and $1 million for fire station improvements.
The Mayor's proposed budget included $65 million a year for street maintenance and construction. Since then, the Mayor added an additional $2.8 million over two years for streets as the result of lower than projected health insurance rates. He is also proposing to set aside up to $949,000 in 2018-19 and $995,000 in 2019-20 for streets from higher than projected property valuation numbers, if General Fund revenue projections are realized.