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Mayor Jean Stothert | City of Omaha

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(January 16, 2019)

 The City of Omaha plans to begin a pilot program this spring to test dockless shared electric scooters.

An RFP posted today outlines the pilot and the requirements for bidders.  The deadline to submit bids is February 8.

The pilot will help the City determine whether shared scooters support the City’s Master Plan goals, including to provide multimodal transportation options for enhanced mobility, create livable and connected neighborhoods, and attain a healthy and safe environment.

Up to three companies will be selected to participate in the pilot, scheduled to begin in late March and continue until mid-November.

“Dockless scooters have the potential to expand mobility options in Omaha. This pilot will  give us the information we need to evaluate the long-term potential for this technology,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

The companies selected will be required to pay $10,000 for a permit to participate in the pilot, plus pay the city 50 cents per day per scooter and 5 cents per day for each ride. Each company can have up to 500 shared scooters in Omaha during the pilot, with an option for 500 more.

Bidders will be required to provide safety records, a history of complaints against the company by users and cities where the company operates, public education and communication plans, pricing, including discounts offered for low-income users, user privacy policies, and insurance coverage (workers compensation, general liability, vehicle liability, cyber liability).

Bidders must also explain how shared scooters create and improve access to jobs for unemployed and underemployed people, if and how the company would contribute to local  infrastructure improvements, outline strategies to work with Omaha’s Smart Cities initiative and existing Omaha transit providers Metro Transit and Heartland Bike Share.

 During the pilot period, Shared Scooter parking zones may be created; scooter parking may also be banned in designated areas. Park Omaha will enforce dockless scooter parking regulations.

There are currently about eight companies providing shared scooters in the United States, including Lime and Bird.

(January 16, 2019)

A new Warple is now live to measure public opinion on rental housing inspections and potential changes in city ordinances. 

The Warple, “Landlords and Rentals” is available on Mayor Jean Stothert’s website, at  Users respond to five statements:

  • There should be more government oversight and/or regulations for rental properties.
  • Landlords should be required to register with the City.
  • There is enough oversight and regulation, nothing more needs to be done.
  • I support more taxpayer dollars to be spent to fund a significant increase in the number of inspectors to inspect Omaha rental properties. 
  • I think tenants need more education about their rights and responsibilities as a renter.

Warple’s technology allows participants to respond more than once, but only the most recent response is counted toward the current results. Previous submissions are saved to know how opinion may change over time.

In September, the City closed Yale Park Apartments after housing inspectors found more than 2,000 code violations ranging from peeling paint to carbon monoxide and gas leaks.  The tenants have been relocated to new housing.   The owner of Yale Park faces a January 17 deadline to apply for the appropriate permits and then start  repairs once the permits are approved.


The Yale Park inspection and subsequent actions initiated a discussion about rental housing and appropriate government oversight to ensure safe rental housing in Omaha.

Mayor Jean Stothert, the Planning Department and City Council Planning Committee continue to research and discuss a variety of options to provide safe housing and consequences for landlords who do not maintain property as required by city code. "It is our responsibility to assure the health and safety of our citizens. We need to continue the public conversation to develop a practical, long-term plan for the city of Omaha," said Mayor Stothert.

Warple has also been used to solicit public opinion on fireworks sales and use, yard waste collection and Oma-Gro, and recycling. Previous Warples are also on the website at

Warple Inc. is an Omaha-based technology startup providing live, real-time, always current views of what people think. Warple is also a product, which gives everyone a voice and provides a way to see how their opinion compares to the collective public opinion.

(January 16, 2019)

A new website to report concerns to the city is now live. is an additional option to report specific problems including code violations, graffiti, road problems, weeds, litter, and during the winter, snow and ice conditions.  The website can also be used to report concerns to Douglas County.

Citizens can sign in to report and track the progress of previous reports using social media accounts.  Users can also sign in as a guest.

For example, when a pothole is reported, the system determines which jurisdiction is responsible, City of Omaha or Douglas County, and routes the report to the correct department where it is assigned a unique report ID number.  The reporting citizen receives an email response which includes the ID number and confirms the details of the report.

“We are in the customer service business and this is good, responsive customer service,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “We want every interaction with city government to be positive. expands on the excellent services already provided by the Mayor’s Hotline staff.”

The Mayor’s Hotline staff takes reports by phone at 402-444-5555 and by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Reports can also be made on the City Sourced mobile app.

In 2018, the Mayor’s Hotline submitted 38,793 service requests to city departments.  The top five complaints were potholes, abandoned vehicles, snow removal, weeds, and litter complaints. In addition to service requests, the staff responded to 16,679 calls and emails that did not generate a request for service or repairs.  Monthly hotline reports are available on the Mayor’s website at

Since August, has been tested by the graffiti and parks maintenance divisions. More than 1,000 reports have been entered during the test period.

The site was built by Douglas/Omaha Geographic Information Systems (DOGIS) developers and is locally managed. The cost to develop the site is $35,000 and is paid from the city’s General Fund. There are no additional fees or costs.

“This is an excellent example of using technology to provide services to our citizens.  The GIS team continues to create tools that provide useful information and data,” said Mayor Stothert. “Thanks to the team for their creative, cost-saving solutions that benefit taxpayers.”

(January 10, 2019)

The City of Omaha and the Salvation Army will launch “A Way to Work”, a work readiness program that will provide employment, training and services to homeless persons.  

“A Way to Work” expands our commitment to workforce development and training. We will bring the dignity of work to those who are willing and able,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

Mayor Stothert first announced the city’s intent to develop an employment program specifically for homeless persons and panhandlers in the 2018 State of the City speech.  A program in Albuquerque, New Mexico, “There’s A Better Way”, provided an example of a successful program.

“We studied the Albuquerque model carefully,” said Mayor Stothert.  “Our program builds on ‘There’s A Better Way’, offering a good job and a good wage, tools for long-term success, and additional resources the Salvation Army is trained to provide.”

Participants in the program will be employed by the Salvation Army for a 90-day program that includes two days per week working at City of Omaha parks facilities at a rate of $10.00/hour. The City will provide transportation to and from the job sites in a van marked “A Way to Work”.

Initial participants will be selected by referral from the Siena Francis House, others will be recruited by the program administrator or can apply for the program. The Salvation Army will screen all applicants to determine their eligibility; all will be subject to a background check and E-Verify.

Up to six participants will be accepted for the program for each 90-day period.  

Following successful completion of the program, the Salvation Army will assist participants with employment applications and provide a letter of recommendation.  Participants may also have the opportunity for future employment with the Parks Department.

“We look forward to participating in ‘A Way to Work’ and providing work experience,” said Parks Director Brook Bench. “We always have seasonal job openings and those who successfully complete this program may be good candidates for future employment with the City.”

“A Way to Work” will be initially funded with $50,000 in Community Service Funds budget in the 2018 City of Omaha General Fund.  The Salvation Army will also contribute $50,000.  A full-time Salvation Army employee will manage the program.

The 2019 program will begin February 5th and conclude September 30. Mayor Stothert will include funding for a “Way to Work” in the 2020 budget.

“The goal has to be to end homelessness in Omaha and this is a major step toward that goal,” said Mayor Stothert.

(January 4, 2019)

A contract with Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA) to manage the construction, operation, maintenance  and activation of the new riverfront parks will be presented to the Omaha City Council and the MECA Board of Directors for approval this month.

Under the agreement between the City of Omaha, MECA and the Downtown Riverfront Trust (DRT), MECA will manage the development of the Gene Leahy Mall, Heartland of America Park and Lewis and Clark Landing, and future operations and activation.  Activation includes creating, scheduling and managing events at the park.  Gene Leahy Mall will be the first park completed.  Construction will begin in March 2019 and is expected to be completed in 2021.

The City and the DRT will each contribute $3 million annually for ten years to a fund managed by MECA  for the operation, maintenance and activation costs.  The money in the fund will accumulate over the ten-year period for future park expenses. The fund will be separate from MECA’s CHI Health Center and TD Ameritrade Park Omaha budgets. The contract also requires that $500,000 from this fund will be set aside in a capital reserve fund each year for future capital expenses.

 “MECA has an established history of working with the City of Omaha and philanthropic leaders on major construction projects,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “This agreement provides management of the park during construction and the important long-term activation to provide the entertainment and leisure activities that will make these parks a destination for Omaha residents and visitors.”

“We have experience tackling projects like this,” said Roger Dixon, MECA President & CEO. “Our past collaborations with the City on major downtown construction projects have benefited the community, and we welcome the opportunity to do it again.”

MECA successfully supervised the construction of CHI Health Center and TD Ameritrade Park Omaha within budget and manages both facilities.

“We plan to employ the same practices that have been proven to be operationally advantageous,” Dixon said. “We’re eager to get started and look forward to working closely with the City and Downtown Riverfront Trust.”

The Downtown Riverfront Trust is a private non-profit created to collect funds for construction and activation of the parks.  Similar non-profits were created to raise money for the construction of the CHI Health Center and  TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.  The Trust will contribute approximately $210 million in private donations for construction of the parks.

The City of Omaha will contribute $50 million for construction in each of the next three years; $15 million in 2019, $15 million in 2020 and $20 million in 2021, allocated in the Capital Improvement Plan.  The City will use Lease-Purchase bonds to cover the costs.  The bonds will not require a tax increase. 

The MECA Board of Directors will vote on the contract at its meeting on Tuesday, January 8.  First reading by the Omaha City Council is scheduled for January 15, the public hearing is January 29, the vote is expected February 5.

Following approvals, pre-construction work is expected to begin at the Gene Leahy Mall in March.

Highlights of the riverfront redevelopment plan, announced in June 2018 include:

  • Parts of the Gene Leahy Mall will be raised to street level, with a great lawn and pavilion for performances and events. Plans also include a dog park, sculpture garden, children’s playground and space for a restaurant.
  • The popular slides will remain, a third may be added
  • A space for popular summer events including the Taste of Omaha and the Summer Arts Festival
  • Features planned at Heartland of America Park include an amphitheater, botanical gardens, a rollerblading and ice skating ribbon and a park building for event rentals, offices and security
  • Lewis and Clark landing includes a two-acre playground, sports courts for volleyball, basketball and pickleball, urban beach, marina, a dedicated space for the annual Bridge Beats summer concert series, and a future discovery pavilion
  • An elevated promenade at the edge of the Missouri River is planned from Heartland of America Park to the Breakers, providing a safe space for biking, walking and jogging and a connection to the riverfront trail system

Project plans, photos and videos are available at

(January 2, 2018)

Omaha passed a milestone in 2018. Christmas Day marked 100 days since the last homicide in Omaha.  “This has never been done before. We are proud to be the guardians of our great city!!!” OPD reported in a Facebook post.

At the recent “State of North Omaha Summit”, Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer reported the city’s homicide rate is the lowest per capita in 20 years.  In 2018, Omaha police investigated 22 homicides, compared to 29 in 2017, 30 in 2016 and 48 in 2015.  

The number of shootings also declined in 2018 to 100.

Overall, crime in Omaha decreased in 2018; violent crime and property crime both fell 10%.

“Our vital signs are looking good,” said Chief Schmaderer.

He described the vital signs as excellent police work, support from Mayor Jean Stothert and the Omaha City Council for increasing the number of police officers and resources, a high clearance rate (the number of cases solved), the number of complaints against officers and police-community relations.

“If you have good police-community relations, you have a high clearance rate,” said Chief Schmaderer.

The OPD clearance rate is 91%, much higher than the national average.

“We are a safer city because of the efforts of our results-oriented police department and the community groups that work with us on crime prevention programs, neighborhood safety, and youth intervention. We have an overall, declining violent crime rate, because of these important relationships,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

In 2019, Omaha Police will open a fifth police precinct building in Elkhorn.  The traffic division, SWAT team and bomb squad will also be located at the new building.  Boundaries for all five precincts will be redrawn, and a new class of recruits will graduate and complete their training to coincide with the opening of the precinct. In 2019, the number of officers will grow to 902, a record high number.

The new “west” precinct’s eastern boundary will be Interstate 680.  The northwest and southwest precincts will be renamed simply “north” and “south”; their western boundaries will extend further west to 680.  The northeast and southeast precincts will maintain their current names and geographic boundaries.

 “Five precincts will nicely cover our call load and provide good police services,” said Chief Schmaderer. He said it will especially help with preventing property crimes. “Property crimes are crimes of opportunity.  Police visibility will help reduce that.”

“This growth is part of the plan we started to develop five years ago, to provide the services we need in a growing city, and that includes the new precinct,” said Mayor Stothert. “Adding a new precinct and increasing the number of police officers is part of our strategic plan to provide the resources our police department needs to provide excellent services throughout the city.”

Crime statistics are reported quarterly and annually on the Omaha Police Department website,

(December 13, 2018)

A policy to provide new funding options for Street Improvement Districts (SIDs) has been developed and sent to the Omaha City Council for approval. The recommended policy includes funding sources for low-income households and renters and for the first time, includes Community Development Block Grant funding in certain neighborhoods.

“This is an innovative option that meets our goal to have a policy that is applied fairly to all applicants,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

The 2019-2025 Capital Improvement Plan includes $820,000 annually for Street Maintenance Districts (SID) and Road Maintenance Districts (RMD) cost sharing, but requires a new policy to be in place.

For many decades, property owners have been solely responsible for the cost of improvements to neighborhood streets that were built many years ago, do not meet current city standards, and have deteriorated to the point they need to be replaced.  In 2017, Mayor Stothert appointed a citizen advisory committee to review a new policy for replacing unimproved streets. The primary goals of the committee were to determine a cost sharing method, considerations for high poverty areas, selection and prioritization of street project locations, and development of a clear process of communication between the City and neighborhoods that participate in a SID or RMD. 

The City Council amended the recommended policy and Mayor Stothert vetoed it, saying it created too many exceptions. The Council did not try to override the Mayor’s veto.  The new policy is on the City Council agenda for approval on December 18.

The revised policy provides these new options:

● Residential areas in Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area (NRSA) qualifying census tracts that have at least 50% unique, owner-occupied housing units may petition for a Street Improvement District, at 100% cost to the City. Currently, $300,000 has been budgeted for 2019.

● Residential areas in NRSA qualifying census tracts that have less than 50% unique, owner occupied housing units may apply to the Planning Department to have a SID included with the City’s Community Development Block Grant Annual Action Plan.  If approved, costs for these projects would be covered by Federal Block Grant funding.

“This policy addresses the need to provide additional funding options,” said Mayor Stothert.  “I believe the City must share this cost in all neighborhoods. It’s time we implement a policy that is fair for property owners on unimproved streets and affordable for the taxpayers.”

The City of Omaha has approximately 5,000 lane miles of streets, about 300 lane miles are considered unimproved.  In 2018, three RMDs and four SIDs were created.  Fifteen petitions are pending, in various stages of the process. 

(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". 



Strong city economy, low unemployment

Strong management, good financial policies

Strong budgetary performance, conservative budgeting, historically accurate budget estimates

Revenue growth

Annual budget surpluses



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.