Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird's proposed budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year closes an estimated $12 million budget gap with a combination of cuts and revenue enhancements, but no increase in the City property tax rate. The gap is largely due to impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on city revenues, including a significant decline in projected sales tax receipts, which fund 44 percent of the general fund budget. The Mayor will present her proposal to the City Council at 1:30 p.m. Monday, June 15.
"During this time of unprecedented economic uncertainty, balancing the budget required shared sacrifice," said Mayor Gaylor Baird. "We made difficult cuts, we asked our employees to be part of the solution, and we collaborated with partners to increase some revenue sources. At the same time, we remained steadfast in our commitment to make strategic investments in key city priorities without increasing the property tax rate."
The City implemented a two-year budget in 2012, but due to the continuing economic uncertainty, Mayor Gaylor Baird is asking the Council to take action to allow one-year budgets for the next two years. She said developing two separate budgets will enable the city to more adequately respond to changing revenues and community needs.
In May, the Mayor implemented a hiring freeze, suspended employee travel and took other action to shore up the City's cash position and help close the FY 20-21 budget gap. Her proposed budget calls for five actions to balance the budget:
Mayor Gaylor Baird said her budget also includes key investments in four priority areas:
The city's property tax levy will remain at 31.980 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. That equates to $576 in City property tax for the owner of a $180,000 home. Out of every property tax dollar the City's share is about 16 cents. The total tax-funded budget is decreasing from $214.0 million in the current fiscal year to $210.4 million in 2020-2021. The number of city employees has dropped from 2,227 FTEs in 2006-2007 to 2,225 FTEs in 2020-2021, despite Lincoln adding more than 45,000 residents during that time.
The City Council's public hearing on the budget is Monday, August 3, and the Council is scheduled to adopt the budget August 24.
More information on the City budget is available at finance.lincoln.ne.gov.