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Mayor Jean Stothert | City of Omaha

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(November 9, 2018)

The projected 2018 budget surplus grew in the 3rd quarter to more than $2 million. The surplus is now estimated at $2.6 million, up from $200,000 at the end of the second quarter.

The third quarter report (January-September) released today shows revenue remains slightly under projections, and expenses are under budget. 

The report also shows most city departments are under budget.  The Fire Department and Human Rights and Relations are the only departments over budget, with three months remaining in the fiscal year.

“We are optimistic that our surplus will continue to grow in the fourth quarter,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “A surplus will be important as we prepare to implement an expensive, new solid waste collection contract in 2020.”

As required by the City Charter, an end-of-year surplus must be carried over to the 2020 budget or used for cash reserve. 

3rd Quarter Expense highlights:

  • Omaha Fire - $168,052 over
  • Human Rights and Relations - $107,399 over
  • Human Resources - $144,179 under
  • Public Works - $290,026 under
  • Omaha Police – $665,057 under
  • Planning - $501,659 under
  • Law - $218,598 under
  • City Clerk - $145,766 under
  • Library - $68,850 under

3rd Quarter Revenue highlights:

  • Rescue squad fees (GEMT) - $3.5 million under
  • Rural Fire District reimbursement - $1.5 million under
  • Utility Occupation taxes - $1.7 million under
  • Restaurant Tax -$76,522 under
  • Sales and Use Tax - $0.7 million over
  • Motor vehicle taxes - $0.7 million over

The expense overrun in the Fire Department is due to an increase in worker’s compensation.  The HRR budget is over due to the addition of the Assistant Director position.  The savings in the police department is due in part to an overtime reduction program.

The 2018 budget included $4 million in federal reimbursement for ambulance fees that will not be paid this year.  In 2017, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 578, the Ground Emergency Medical Transport Act (GEMT), however the State of Nebraska did not implement it.  The bill increased Medicaid reimbursement for ambulance fees which are currently paid at a lower rate than cities' actual costs.  

When the legislative session begins in January, the City will attempt to correct administrative issues at the state level that have prevented us from receiving these funds.

(November 2, 2018)

The City of Omaha and Local 251, representing civilian employees, have reached agreement on a three-year labor contract effective 2018-2020.  The contract has been approved by Local 251 members and the Personnel Board.  The agreement will be on the City Council agenda November 6 for first reading.

Negotiations focused on health care benefits and wages.

The contract includes a 3% annual wage increase over the term of the contract. The increase is retroactive to March 2018. 

A significant change in health care benefits including a high deductible plan and health savings accounts begins in 2020.  These benefits are more comparable to plans offered in the private sector.

The Omaha Police Officers Association (OPOA) and the Police Management Bargaining Unit have already moved to the high deductible plan.

“Health care is a significant expense for taxpayers. Our goal is to have one employee health care plan that provides quality, affordable care for employees at a reasonable cost,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

In 2018, the City budget includes approximately $62 million for employee and retiree health care benefits, approximately $68 million is budgeted in 2019.

Negotiations with Local 251 did not include pension changes.  The members previously agreed to an unprecedented cash balance pension plan which replaced the defined benefit plan.  New employees hired since 2015 participate in the cash balance plan which is estimated to provide a fix to the unfunded pension in 20 years, much sooner than would have been possible under the defined benefit plan.  

Local 251 is the largest civilian union, representing 657 employees.

Negotiations with the Functional Employee Group, which represents several dozen civilian employees, are underway and an agreement is expected this month.  The City is also negotiating with the Professional Firefighters Association Local 385.

(October 29, 2018)

For the fifth year in a row,  Omaha’s bond rating will remain unchanged at one of the highest ratings possible from Moody's Investment Services and S&P Global.

S&P Global assigned a AA+ rating with a stable outlook. This is S&P's second highest rating described as "high grade".

Moody’s assigned a Aa2 rating with a stable outlook on the City's General Obligation Bonds. This is Moody's third highest rating described as "high quality and very low risk". 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE S & P REPORT

Strong city economy, low unemployment

Strong management, good financial policies

Strong budgetary performance, conservative budgeting, historically accurate budget estimates

Revenue growth

Annual budget surpluses

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE MOODY’S REPORT

Healthy economy, sizable tax base, low unemployment

Strong city budget management


Both agencies again cite unfunded pension liability as the primary reason the city has not earned a AAA bond rating.

“The City of Omaha will not get a AAA bond rating until we negotiate a sustainable solution to reduce our pension liability,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “The steps we have taken are not enough. We will continue to ask our employee unions to approve pension reform that is fair to our employees and the taxpayers.  We must reach agreement to protect the city’s financial future.”   

Both agencies also want to see an increase in the City’s two savings funds.  The Cash Reserve Fund is projected to end the year with a balance of $8.8 million.  The City Charter allows for up to $32 million in that fund. The Contingent Liability Fund is projected to have a $3.5 million balance at the end of 2018.

Each year, Mayor Stothert has budgeted an increase in both funds. 

Mayor Stothert met with representatives of both agencies earlier this month.

(October 24, 2018)

After more than two years of study, public outreach, and coordination with the Omaha City Council, a Request for Bids (RFB) is now advertised for a long-term solid waste contract with the City of Omaha. The RFB will provide information about the cost and affordability of services in the next contract. 

“This is a critically important decision,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “We need a modern, safe, efficient and environmentally friendly collection system that we can afford. We will choose the best system possible within our current budget. I will not support a tax increase to pay for this contract.”

Companies will be required to bid on a collection system that uses automated trucks and covered carts to collect garbage, recyclables and yard waste. Bidders will be required to provide costs on 3 options. 

  • Option 1: Three carts; one each for garbage, yard waste, and recyclables. Garbage and yard waste would be collected separately weekly.  Recyclables would be collected every other week.
  • Option 2: Three carts, co-mingled garbage, and yard waste collected weekly in two carts, recyclables collected every other week in one cart.
  • Option 3: Two carts; one cart for garbage co-mingled with yard waste collected weekly, and a second cart for recyclables collected every other week.

 YARD WASTE:

 The current contract with Waste Management requires separate yard waste collection which costs approximately $4 million annually.

The next contract will require that yard waste must be placed inside the cart provided.

Each option eliminates unlimited, free, curbside collection of yard waste. However, there will be new alternatives.

The City will expand the annual Spring Cleanup to include yard waste which is currently not offered.  A new Fall Cleanup will also be held each year beginning in 2019 for residents to dispose of yard waste, garbage, and household items. These cleanup programs will coincide with the peak seasons for yard waste.

In the future, citizens will also be able to take yard waste directly to the Oma-Gro facility at the Papillion Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility at 15705 Harlan Lewis Road.  There will be no tipping fee (cost) for homeowners to dispose of yard waste at this location.

For those who want unlimited yard waste pick-up curbside, the successful bidder will also be required to offer a voluntary, paid sticker program. The contractor will determine the price of the stickers and the retailers where stickers can be purchased.  Costs are estimated at between $1.50 to $3-$4 per sticker. Only yard waste bags marked with a sticker will be collected by the contractor. 

CARTS:

The next contract will require everyone to use carts. The 96-gallon carts, with wheels and lids, will be provided by the company. There is no direct cost to the citizens.  The carts will replace the small green recycling bins and garbage cans currently provided by citizens. An exchange program will be offered after a 90-day trial period for those who prefer a smaller cart (48 gallons) Residents can also “opt out” of a cart.

During the six-month pilot of the carts (November 2016-April 2017), 82% of the participants surveyed said they strongly or moderately favor the cart system.

TRUCKS:

The contractor will use both automated and semi-automated trucks.  In some parts of the city, including neighborhoods with alleys, narrow streets with on-street parking on both sides of the street, and large trees that hang over the street, the contractor will use a semi-automated truck.  The automated arm that lifts the carts from the curb is on the back of the truck instead of the side.  The driver will push the carts to the back of the truck so they can be lifted and emptied.

The contractor will be required to use alternative-fueled trucks, phased in over the first seven years of the contract.

“We have considered input from thousands of citizens to develop a bid that provides a base level of service that will meet the needs of most people,” said Mayor Stothert.  “We have options for continued free yard waste disposal and also continued unlimited curbside pickup for citizens who want to pay for additional service.  We have options for smaller carts and an opt-out program.  We will continue to produce Oma-Gro, and we anticipate an increase in recycling by replacing small bins with carts. These steps are responsive to the suggestions we have received.”   

The Request for Bids (RFB) has been in development for more than two years. The process included a series of public open houses, a six-month test of automated collection by 2,500 homeowners in six neighborhoods, follow-up telephone surveys, comparative studies of comparable cities, environmental studies, and input from citizens and the Omaha City Council.

“The objective of the next contract is to provide a consistent, manageable level of service throughout the City by providing a base level of service, and enhancing the options we offer citizens,” said Public Works Director Bob Stubbe. “We anticipate a high level of interest in our RFB.”

“This contract will impact the city budget for the next 20 years,” said Finance Director Steve Curtiss.  “We have considered best industry practices and best cost estimates to design an RFB that provides the services taxpayers want.”

The current contract has been in effect since 2006 and was originally awarded to Deffenbaugh Industries. Waste Management purchased Deffenbaugh in 2014.  The City currently pays approximately $20 million annually for solid waste collection; $14 million to Waste Management, plus tipping fees at the Pheasant Point Landfill. The cost of service per residence is $9.36 per month, paid from the City's General Fund.  That cost is expected to at least double to between $16.00-$18.00 in the next contract. The contract expires December 31, 2020.

The next contract will be in effect for ten years with an option for two 5-year extensions.

The Request for Bids is posted at this link: https://www.douglascountypurchasing.org.   Bids are due January 30, 2019.  The bids will be reviewed and a recommendation will be forwarded to Mayor Stothert. The Mayor will then forward a recommendation to the City Council for approval.  The City Council will review and make the final decision.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q:  WHY DO I HAVE TO USE 96-GALLON CARTS?

A: The new contract will require everyone to use carts.  The 96-gallon carts, with wheels and lids, will be provided by the company. There is no direct cost to the citizens.  The carts will replace the small green recycling bins and cans currently provided by citizens. An exchange program will be offered after a 90-day trial period for those who prefer a smaller cart (48 gallons). Residents can also “opt out” of a cart.

During the six-month test of the carts (November 2016-April 2017), 82% of the participants surveyed said they strongly favor or moderately favor the cart system.

The carts are designed for durability and to easily move heavy loads.  City Code Chapter 18, Sections 101-106 will apply to the storage of the carts.

The carts will be covered by a 12-year warranty.

Q: WILL YARD WASTE BE COLLECTED SEPARATELY?

A: We don’t know yet. The cost of separate collection will be a significant factor in this decision.  This is not the next contract. This RFB will give us information about the affordability of the services we want in the next contract. 

The companies that submit bids are required to provide costs on 3 options. 

#1-Three carts; one each for garbage, yard waste, and recyclables.  Garbage and yard waste would be collected separately weekly.  Recyclables would be collected every other week.

#2-Three carts, co-mingled garbage, and yard waste collected weekly in two carts, recyclables collected every other week in one cart.

#3-Two carts; one cart for garbage co-mingled with yard waste collected weekly, and a second cart for recyclables collected every other week.

Q: WHY IS UNLIMITED YARD WASTE COLLECTION BEING DISCONTINUED?

A:   Currently, the annual cost of unlimited curbside collection is nearly $4 million. This expense is not sustainable for the taxpayers. The majority of homeowners have minimal or no yard waste.  Survey participants indicated they typically use 1-3 yard waste bags or containers weekly which would be comparable to a 96-gallon cart.

The next contract will require that yard waste must be placed inside the cart provided.  However, there will be new alternatives for free, unlimited disposal of yard waste and a sticker program for a small cost that is successful in other communities and will allow for curbside collection.

The City will expand the annual Spring Cleanup to include yard waste which is currently not offered.  A new Fall Cleanup will also be held each year beginning in 2019 for residents to dispose of yard waste, garbage, and household items.  These cleanup programs will coincide with the peak seasons for yard waste.

In the future, citizens will also be able to take yard waste directly to the Oma-Gro facility at the Papillion Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility at 15705 Harlan Lewis Road.  There will not be a tipping fee for homeowners to dispose of yard waste at this location.

The contractor will also offer a voluntary, paid sticker program for those who want unlimited yard waste collection at the curb. The contractor will determine the price of the stickers and the retailers where stickers can be purchased.  Only yard waste bags marked with a sticker will be collected by the contractor.  The contractor will also offer an extra cart service, for a fee, for those who need additional curbside collection capacity.

Q:  WHY IS THE SOLID WASTE COLLECTION SYSTEM CHANGING AND WHEN WILL THE CHANGE BE EFFECTIVE?

A:  The City’s current contract with Waste Management expires December 31, 2020.  This contract has been in effect since 2006 and was originally awarded to Deffenbaugh Industries. Waste Management purchased Deffenbaugh in 2014.  The current, outdated system will be replaced with a system that meets current industry standards to provide safe, clean and efficient collections. The new system will benefit residents in many ways, including safety, convenience, and added capacity for recycling which will divert material from the landfill.

The trucks will be equipped with automated arms that lift the carts off the curb and empty into the truck.

The new contract will be awarded in 2019 and the new system must be in place prior to the expiration of the current contract.

Q: MY TRASH IS COLLECTED FROM AN ALLEY.  DOES THIS CHANGE APPLY TO ME?

Yes.  In some parts of the city, including neighborhoods with alleys, narrow streets with on-street parking on both sides of the streets, and large trees that hang over the street, the contractor will use a semi-automated truck. The automated arm that lifts the carts from the curb is on the back of the truck instead of the side.  The driver will push the carts to the back of the truck so they can be lifted and emptied.

Q: HOW MUCH WILL THE NEW CONTRACT COST? 

A. Our estimates project the cost of the next contract will increase significantly. The City currently pays approximately $20 million annually for solid waste collection; $14 million to Waste Management, plus tipping fees at Pheasant Point Landfill which are based on the volume of material discarded.  These costs are paid from the city’s General Fund budget.  State law requires the City of Omaha to collect solid waste without a direct charge to the taxpayer.  Nebraska State Statute 13-2020(4). In all other Nebraska cities, citizens pay for waste collection with private haulers. 

 Q: WILL THE CITY STILL PRODUCE AND SELL OMA-GRO

A: Yes

Q: WILL THE SPECIAL COLLECTION PROGRAM STILL BE OFFERED?

A: Yes.  Households where all residents have a medical disability or are at least 70 years old qualify for the special collection.  Participants in the special collection program will also use carts and can begin the new collection program with the smaller cart option. To apply for this program, call 402-444-5238.

Q: CAN I HAVE EXTRA CARTS?

A:  Yes.  If a citizen wants more than the carts provided by the City for basic service, additional carts will be available from the contractor for additional curbside capacity.  Citizens requesting the additional cart will pay the contractor directly.

Q: WHAT SHOULD I DO WITH MY OLD TRASH CANS AND GREEN BINS?

A:  We recommend you keep the green recycling bin for storage or to transport glass to a recycling center.  The cans can be used for other purposes including backyard composting.

 

Q: WHO WILL CHOOSE THE NEXT CONTRACTOR?

A:  The Request for Bids (RFB) was published on October 24. Bids are due January 30th.  The bids will be reviewed and a recommendation will be made to Mayor Stothert.  The Mayor will then forward a recommendation to the City Council.  The Council will make the final decision. 

The bid documents are available at this link: https://www.douglascountypurchasing.org/current-requests-for-bids-a-proposals

((October 18, 2018))

The critical communication system that links the 911 Center to Omaha fire stations is now operational.

Voters approved the Douglas County Public Safety Bond issue in 2016, which included funding for a station alerting system upgrade.

“The public safety bond issue is an example of how city and county government should work together,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “The taxpayers we all serve, and the firefighters who protect our community, all benefit.”  

Several years ago, Mayor Stothert prioritized replacement of station alerting, budgeting $1.7 million to purchase and install the new system. Douglas County also included station alerting in its bond issue.

After voters approved the bond, the city council then approved the $2.5 million purchase; $2 million was paid with the bonds; the city paid the additional $465,000.

Thursday, Fire Chief Dan Olsen demonstrated the alerting system at Station 21 at 34th and Ames.  The system is IP-based and designed to be flexible and modular allowing for future upgrades.  The technology is expected to provide benefits to first responders, 911 dispatchers, and citizens.

The equipment has features that benefit first responders directly including heart saver tones, video status boards, colored lighting boards, speakers with indicating lights, garage door indicators, and much more. The system is designed to enhance county dispatcher’s ability to process and ultimately broadcast emergency calls.

“We are continually upgrading our emergency response equipment, communications, and training to ensure the safety of our citizens and our first responders. In every emergency, firefighters need the best tools possible to provide emergency care,” said Mayor Stothert. 

In the last five years, the City has replaced nine medic units, 13 fire trucks and seven battalion chief vehicles. 

The first bariatric medic unit is now in service and stretchers with automated lifts are being purchased for every ambulance.

Other new equipment includes:

  • Thermal imaging cameras
  • Jaws of Life
  • 493 portable radios.
  • The first foam trailer to extinguish ethanol fires
  • Extractor washing machines
  • Personal protective equipment for firefighters

A variety of funding sources including public safety bonds, public facilities bonds and grant dollars is used to pay for new equipment.

“These are all important improvements to provide excellent emergency services,” said Mayor Stothert.

((October 18, 2018))

The critical communication system that links the 911 Center to Omaha fire stations is now operational.

Voters approved the Douglas County Public Safety Bond issue in 2016, which included funding for a station alerting system upgrade.

“The public safety bond issue is an example of how city and county government should work together,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “The taxpayers we all serve, and the firefighters who protect our community, all benefit.”  

Several years ago, Mayor Stothert prioritized replacement of station alerting, budgeting $1.7 million to purchase and install the new system. Douglas County also included station alerting in its bond issue.

After voters approved the bond, the city council then approved the $2.5 million purchase; $2 million was paid with the bonds; the city paid the additional $465,000.

Thursday, Fire Chief Dan Olsen demonstrated the alerting system at Station 21 at 34th and Ames.  The system is IP-based and designed to be flexible and modular allowing for future upgrades.  The technology is expected to provide benefits to first responders, 911 dispatchers, and citizens.

The equipment has features that benefit first responders directly including heart saver tones, video status boards, colored lighting boards, speakers with indicating lights, garage door indicators, and much more. The system is designed to enhance county dispatcher’s ability to process and ultimately broadcast emergency calls.

“We are continually upgrading our emergency response equipment, communications, and training to ensure the safety of our citizens and our first responders. In every emergency, firefighters need the best tools possible to provide emergency care,” said Mayor Stothert. 

In the last five years, the City has replaced nine medic units, 13 fire trucks and seven battalion chief vehicles. 

The first bariatric medic unit is now in service and stretchers with automated lifts are being purchased for every ambulance.

Other new equipment includes:

  • Thermal imaging cameras
  • Jaws of Life
  • 493 portable radios.
  • The first foam trailer to extinguish ethanol fires
  • Extractor washing machines
  • Personal protective equipment for firefighters

A variety of funding sources including public safety bonds, public facilities bonds and grant dollars is used to pay for new equipment.

“These are all important improvements to provide excellent emergency services,” said Mayor Stothert.

(October 2, 2018)

Mayor Jean Stothert has approved a new Public Works policy that creates a step-by-step process for removal of traffic signals.  Under this policy, two signals near Dundee Elementary and one near Rockbrook Elementary will not be removed.

Last fall, Mayor Stothert directed the Public Works Department to delay plans to remove the traffic signals at 51st and Farnam and 52nd and Chicago and authorized additional study during the 2017-2018 school year. The signals were scheduled for removal as part of the City’s traffic signal master plan upgrade*.

The signals at 51st and Farnam and 52nd and Chicago were studied in November 2017, April and May of 2018 by Felsburg, Holt & Ullevig (FHU).  The Public Works Department hired FHU to provide an independent study of the intersections. FHU used video cameras installed at the intersections and on-site observations to count pedestrians on November 1 and 17, April 12, May 14-15 and May 22-24.  The weather was clear on all eight days, and all were regular school days.

The 51st and Farnam, the signal did not meet the warrants and FHU recommended removing the signal. 

At 52nd and Chicago, the signal did meet the warrants and FHU recommended keeping the signal at this location.

Olsson Associates studied the signal at 108th and Oak and found it did not meet the warrants and agreed with the Public Works recommendation to remove the signal. 

Following the completion of the follow-up studies and the analysis, the Traffic Signal Removal Process Policy has been amended giving the Mayor the option to exempt signals with a school crossing sign:

“The Mayor may, in the exercise of his or her policy discretion, recommend ending the signal removal process for any signal with a school crossing sign, upon providing a written notice to the Public Works Director.”

“I made the decision to leave the signals in place at 51st and Farnam, 52nd and Chicago and 108th and Oak based on the new policy,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.  “The safety of everyone who uses these intersection, pedestrians, drivers or bicyclists is our primary interest.”

The Traffic Signal Removal Process Policy will be effective immediately.  It includes six steps to provide thorough study, review, and communication.

1-Initial Screening and Warrant Review

2-Supplemental Review-applies to signals identified by Public Works for removal

3-Coordination with Mayor’s Office-Mayor reviews signals recommended for removal

(Steps 4,5 and 6 improve communication and outreach)

4-Coordination with City Council members and community

5-Turn-off Period

6-Final Removal

This policy will not apply to signals on roads that are being reconstructed.

*Over the next 10 years, the City will implement the $35 million plan to modernize and upgrade the traffic signal system to improve safety and efficiency for all users. The City currently has 1,000 traffic signals using outdated technology.

(September 30, 2018)

During the month of October, “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”, the Omaha Police Department will join hundreds of law enforcement agencies nationwide, turning their uniform patches pink as part of the “Pink Patch Project”.

"The Omaha Police Department proudly supports the Pink Patch Project for the second year. We are happy to join law enforcement agencies nationwide in this effort to increase awareness for breast cancer research," said Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer.

The Pink Patch Project raises awareness and funds for local cancer charities. 16 Nebraska law enforcement agencies have teamed up to “put the cuffs on cancer together”. The Nebraska Pink Patch Project t-shirt, pink patches, and other swag are available for purchase online: http://store.ideal-images.com/pink_patch_project/shop/products/omaha_police?page=1

Proceeds from OPD’s “Pink Patch Project” will benefit the Hereditary Cancer Foundation, a charity created in memory of Omaha Police Officer Kamie Preston, who lost her life to breast cancer at the age of 40. Officer Preston had a BRCA1 mutation, giving her an 87% lifetime risk of breast cancer. Unfortunately, Officer Preston did not know she was a mutation carrier until it was too late.

The Hereditary Cancer Foundation funds cancer genetic testing that screens for hereditary links to the disease, like BRCA and Lynch Syndrome mutations. When men and women know their risk of developing cancer, they can take action (preventive surgeries and more frequent early detection screening).

Officer Preston asked her three children, Brandi, Ben, and Bailey to know their risk and be proactive with their health. Brandi and Ben have both been tested and are BRCA1+. Brandi had a preventive bilateral mastectomy at the age of 22. This surgery reduced her risk of breast cancer from 87% to less than 2%. Brandi is the founder of the Hereditary Cancer Foundation. She is also the Community Services Manager in Mayor Jean Stothert's office

Hereditary cancers account for 10% of all cancer cases. Common hereditary cancers include: breast, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic, colon, endometrial, gastric, and melanoma. If cancer runs in your family, take this quiz and learn if you may be appropriate for cancer genetic testing: www.hereditarycancerquiz.com

(September 10, 2018)

Mayor Jean Stothert will hold her annual series of Town Hall meetings this fall beginning September 17th.

“I have held 35 Town Hall meetings since my first election in 2013,” said Mayor Stothert.  “Personal interaction with our citizens is the best way to provide accurate information, listen to citizen feedback and concerns and offer solutions.  I always look forward to our Town Halls.”

All meetings begin at 6:00 p.m.

 

September 17                                                         

City Council District 6     Omaha Public Library Millard Branch       13214 Westwood Lane

                                                           

October 4                                                                 

City Council District 1     Camelot Community Center                      9270 Cady Avenue                                                          

 

October 11                                                               

City Council District 3      Belle Ryan Elementary School                1807 S. 60th Street                                                        1

 

October 18           

City Council District 4      Spring Lake Elementary School                4215 S. 20th Street

 

October 22  

City Council District 5      Mockingbird Hills Community Center         10242 Mockingbird Drive           

 

October 29

City Council District 2      The Venue at Highlander North                  2120 N. 30th Street 

 

November 5                

City Council District 7       Joslyn Elementary School                          11220 Blondo

 

(August 29, 2018)

The 2018 City of Omaha fiscal year is trending toward a year-end surplus at the end of the second quarter.

The projected surplus is smaller than previous years, estimated now at slightly under $200,000.

“A year-end carryover is always important as we plan for future budgets,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.  “We expect the 2018 carryover to grow in the second half of the year with positive revenue growth and managing our expenses.”

The second quarter report (January-June) released today shows revenue is slightly under budget, however sales tax revenue for the months of May and June, which includes sales tax collected during the College World Series and Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting had not yet been reported by the State of Nebraska. (That information has now been received and shows sales tax revenue is currently approximately $400,000 over budget projections.)

The report also shows most city departments are under budget.  The Fire Department, Human Rights and Relations, Human Resources and Public Works were all over budget at the end of the June.   

2nd Quarter Expense highlights:

  • Omaha Fire - $384,658 over
  • Human Rights and Relations - $105,013 over
  • Human Resources - $12,759 over
  • Public Works - $14,037 over
  • Omaha Police – $563,189 under
  • Planning - $303,356 under
  • Law - $187,833 under
  • City Clerk - $146,456 under
  • Health Care Savings - $2,078,439
  • All other departments are expected to be at or under budget

2nd Quarter Revenue highlights:

  • Rescue squad fees (GEMT) - $4.3 million under
  • Rural Fire District reimbursement - $1.5 million under
  • Utility Occupation taxes - $1.5 million under
  • Sales and Use Tax - $0.9 million under
  • Motor vehicle taxes - $0.7 million over

The expense overrun in the Fire Department is due to call back pay, worker’s compensation and vehicle maintenance; HRR is over budget due to the addition of the Assistant Director position.   

The 2018 budget includes $4 million in federal reimbursement for ambulance fees that will not be paid this year.  In 2017, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 578, the Ground Emergency Medical Transport Act (GEMT), however the State of Nebraska did not implement it.  The bill increased Medicaid reimbursement for ambulance fees which are currently paid at a lower rate than billed by cities. 

“Cities are missing out on millions of dollars the federal government will reimburse as a Certified Public Expenditure” said Finance Director Steve Curtiss. “The State of Nebraska should implement this bill or the Legislature should revise it next year, so Omaha and other cities can be paid for the services provided by our first responders.”

As required by the City Charter, an end-of-year surplus must be carried over to the 2020 budget or used for cash reserve.