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Beginning January 5, 2015, solid waste, yard waste and recyclable pickup routes and schedules will change, affecting most Omaha households.

The changes are the first in thirty years and are expected to improve service.

"We all want dependable trash service.  These changes will eliminate an unbalanced jigsaw puzzle-like collection system and create more uniform, efficient routes," said Mayor Jean Stothert.

The City will be resectored into five bands from east to west. Collections will begin on Mondays in the southernmost parts of the city. Each day, collections will move further north, ending on Friday.  (story continues after maps)

These changes are being introduced eight weeks before the effective date to avoid confusion and missed collections beginning in January.

The resectoring plan, developed in partnership with the contractor, was created using state-of-the-art routing software to gain efficiencies in collections.  Trash will still be taken to the Pheasant Point landfill in northwest Douglas County and recyclables will be delivered to Firstar Fiber.  Yard waste will continue to be processed at the Oma-Gro facility at the Papillion Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The fall issue of Wasteline will be delivered to all residential customers beginning Friday November 14.  A second issue will be delivered in mid-December.  These newsletters will provide important reminders of the resectoring plan.  Each customer will also receive a personalized postcard reminder beginning the week of December 29th providing their specific new collection date.

A website has also been created so customers can view their new collection date at any time, http://newday.wasteline.org. Users can enter their home address and receive information about their current collection day and their new collection day.

"We have been working on this plan for nearly two years," said Public Works Director Bob Stubbe.  "We understand there will be some growing pains with the changes, but we're confident this will help us provide more timely service, even in peak times of the year." 

The City provides collection service to nearly 130,000 households; 73% will be affected by the change. The resectoring plan also takes into account continued growth of the city.

This plan changes only the pickup routes and schedule.  There will not be any changes in the type of trash containers allowed, preparation or the materials collected.  The route changes will remain in effect when the Deffenbaugh sale to Waste Management is approved and takes effect next year.

Citizens can call the Mayor’s Hotline, 402-444-5555 with questions,  Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. or the Solid Waste Hotline, 402-444-5238 anytime.


After nine months, the City of Omaha 2014 fiscal year is expected to end with a $9.5 million surplus. The third quarter financial report, released Thursday shows expenses are under budget by $5.6 million dollars; revenue is up by nearly $4 million.

“We are controlling expenses,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “Revenue can be unpredictable. That’s why we monitor expenses department by department constantly, always careful not to reduce the services taxpayers expect and deserve.”

Highlights of the 3rdquarter report include:

  • The Police Department is estimated to be $3.05 million under budget due to savings in wages and benefits and health care costs.
  • Planning, Parks, Finance, Human Resources, Public Works and Library are also projected to be under the general fund budget.
  • The Omaha Fire Department remains slightly over budget; less than a half million dollars, ($0.34 million) attributed to wages and costs associated with injuries, resignations and the deaths of active duty firefighters.
  • Property tax and sales tax revenue is up, while restaurant tax revenue is under budget by $1 million.

The 2014 projected surplus has grown from $6.1 million at the end of the second quarter to $9.5 million.

“Our entire team deserves credit for this strong report,” said Finance Director Steve Curtiss. “Much of the savings is in personnel and health care costs and I expect this trend to continue through the remainder of the year.”

The City Charter will require the year end surplus to be carried over to 2016.

“For three consecutive quarters we have controlled spending and managed the budget. The projected surplus shows my commitment to spending the taxpayer’s money carefully,” said Mayor Stothert.


A comprehensive study of the Omaha-Council Bluffs riverfront began today.

A team from ULI, Urban Land Institute, will survey both cities, interview dozens of stakeholders and present a preliminary report at the end of the week. ULI is a non-profit research organization that specializes in land use.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert, Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh and the Greater Omaha Chamber invited ULI to evaluate commercial and residential development, recreation and entertainment opportunities on both sides of the river.

“The riverfront is our front door and we have a tremendous opportunity to make it a destination for the residents of our communities and visitors,” said Mayor Stothert. “ULI will provide ideas that can guide our next steps and promote collaboration between Omaha and Council Bluffs and the private partners who share our enthusiasm for this unique space.”

Since late 2013, discussions have been underway to determine how to activate and promote the riverfront. ULI was identified and hired to provide impartial evaluation and input.

“For the last 160 years North America's longest river has been the common thread binding together our two communities,” said Mayor Walsh.“For much of that timeframe the Missouri River had continued to be an untapped resource for most local citizens and visitors. In the last fifteen years, both communities have made significant investments toward riverfront improvement. The purpose of this study is about taking a fresh look through the neutral eyes of the Urban Land Institute’s professional consultants at this great natural resource and it is our hope that we can discover new ways to enhance the riverfront experience for everyone.”

More than 70 people have been invited to interviews with ULI teams, including Mayor Stothert, Mayor Walsh, community and business leaders.

“For nearly two decades, community vision and collaboration transformed our riverfront into a destination flowing with promise. Now, that same combination is committed to re-energize and fuel new pride in the region, creating a vibrant, enhanced space to attract visitors, our residents and the professional talent our businesses need to thrive,” said David G. Brown, President and CEO of the Greater Omaha Chamber.

The total cost of the ULI study is $150,000, funded with donations from the private sector.

The preliminary report will be presented Friday at 9:00 a.m. at the Holiday Inn at Ameristar, 2200 River Road in Council Bluffs.

For more information about Urban Land Institute: http://uli.org

ULI PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS


Two bond rating agencies have different views on Omaha’s financial position.

Standard & Poor’s has reaffirmed Omaha’s AA+ bond rating, the second highest rating possible.

Moody’s Investment Service has downgraded Omaha’s rating, from Aa1 to Aa2, but describes the city’s financial outlook as stable; an improvement from the negative outlook issued last year. Moody’s cites Omaha’s solid financial track record, strong management team, and growing tax base that may withstand some future budgetary pressures. Moody’s Aa2 rating indicates a city’s very strong capacity to meet financial commitments. Omaha’s bond rating is still better than 80% of all U.S. cities.

Moody’s listed four main reasons for the Aa2 rating:

  • A growing unfunded pension liability
  • Health care costs for retired employees
  • Unsettled labor contracts
  • The federally mandated CSO program

“This bond rating shows we still have a lot of work to do in reforming our public employee pensions,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “Our unions must realize the severe consequences of delays, inaction and failure to accept reasonable contract offers that solve the unfunded pension liability, protect taxpayers and stabilize the financial condition of the City.”

Just today, the Civilian Management Professional and Technical Employees Council (CMPTEC) rejected a 5-year contract offer that would have eliminated the unfunded pension liability in 24 years. The other civilian union Local 251, is scheduled to vote on a tentative contract agreement next month. Local 385, the Firefighters Union is currently negotiating with the City; its contract expires at the end of 2014 and negotiations with the Omaha Police Officers Association stalled when the union filed a lawsuit against the City.

“The unions must be part of the solution,” said Mayor Stothert. “Moody’s report specifically points out that pension changes need union approval, limiting management control and our efforts to make positive improvements.”

Prior to Moody’s visit to Omaha last week, a new pension projection report by Cavanaugh Macdonald showed the fire and police unfunded pension liability will be fully funded and solvent in approximately 22 years.

In a statement last week, the Mayor said, "We have not crossed the finish line yet. We will continue to push for further pension reform to protect the City and the taxpayers from future liability. The City must be able to manage the budget with a pension system that is more predictable than the plan we currently have.”

Omaha issues general obligation bonds annually to finance streets, sewers, parks, public safety and public facilities projects.


The Civilian Management Professional and Technical Employees Council (CMPTEC) has rejected the City’s 5-year contract offer. It included unprecedented pension reform and solved the union’s unfunded pension liability.

“CMPTEC steadfastly refuses to accept our proposal,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “It would have created a new pension plan for future employees, but the union wants the City to continue with the risky defined benefit plan which puts all the risk on taxpayers and no risk on the employees.

That’s not a reasonable demand and they don’t understand what’s at stake.”

The City’s offer would have created a cash balance pension plan for CMPTEC employees hired after January 1, 2015, and substantially reformed the existing defined benefit plan for current CMPTEC employees. It would completely eliminate the current, dangerously high unfunded pension liability in roughly 24 years, and further protect taxpayers from the possibility of future unfunded liability.

“The cash balance plan is the key to solving our civilian pension liabilities,” said Mayor Stothert. “It protects the City against market fluctuations and still provides a fair pension that our employees can depend on. Our unions have to work with us, not against us.”

CMPTEC also rejected a significant 9% wage increase offered over the 5-year term of the contract, and the City’s increased contribution to the employee’s pension by 7%. The health care benefits in the rejected contract would have remained unchanged.

There are approximately 450 employees covered by the CMPTEC bargaining unit.

The City has reached a tentative agreement with the other civilian union, Local 251. A vote is scheduled in November. The agreement with Local 251 also includes a cash balance pension plan for new employees that would result in a fully funded pension plan in 24 years and a 9% salary increase over the 5-year term of the contract.


Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert is expected to testify Friday in a lawsuit filed against the City of Omaha by the Omaha Police Officers Association Local 101.

The union filed the lawsuit June 25th, alleging the City did not provide “written notice” to open contract negotiations and therefore, the current labor agreement which expired in 2013 had automatically rolled over to the end of 2014. The City calls the union’s lawsuit a game of gotcha, as negotiations had started several months earlier, even including a contract offer from the union and a counter offer from the City. The union has characterized its actions only as a "courtesy" and "listening to commentary" of the City.

The City has asked the Court to rule that the contract has not rolled over and the union must resume negotiations for 2014.

“We have repeatedly asked the union to restart negotiations and avoid trial and the union has refused,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “The union’s attempt to avoid negotiating is unprecedented. Never before has one side attempted to roll over a contract against the will of the other.”

The trial is scheduled to begin Thursday at 1:00 p.m. in Douglas County District Court Judge Joseph Troia’s courtroom. The City’s negotiator Mark McQueen, Labor Relations Director Steve Kerrigan and Police Chief Todd Schmaderer are also expected to testify.


A new report prepared for the Omaha Police and Fire Pension Board shows a significant turnaround in the pension fund, even projecting the fund will be solvent and fully funded more than 20 years earlier than expected.

"This is good news for the taxpayers, our police and fire employees and our bond investors," said Mayor Jean Stothert. "The underfunded pension liability is a result of costly decisions made by prior administrations. My administration is working hard to shore up the pension under-funding."

The actuarial projection, prepared by Cavanaugh MacDonald Consulting, shows pension reforms negotiated in the current police and fire union contracts are working. Those reforms include the elimination of spiking, an agreement with police and fire employees to reduce benefits and raise the retirement age. Both the employees and the City also agreed to contribute more to the pension fund.

Before those reforms were implemented,the pension fund was expected to run out of money and go broke in 20 years. The unfunded pension liability, estimated at $622 million, is now projected to be solvent and fully funded in 21 years, with no additional contributions from taxpayers beyond the current compensation package. That compares with the previous estimate of 44 years.

Omaha Police Sergeant Aaron Hanson, a Pension Board Trustee, called the new projections a testament to collaboration and hard work by all sides. "You would be hard-pressed to find other cities that have taken the steps we have. "The collaborative work we have done in Omaha is probably the template for other city and county governments struggling with pensions," said Hanson.The Pension Board requested the study last spring; it was delivered October 10th and will be discussed at Thursday's meeting of the Pension Board. Mayor Stothert said the report is unrelated to the Alliance for the Public Sector's criticism of the unfunded pensions and the City's plans to solve it.

City Finance Director Stephen Curtiss said the actuarial projection is based on a number of assumptions, including an 8% return on investments. Curtiss acknowledged 8% is considered high by some standards. "We agree that's high for a domestic portfolio, but we don't have a domestic portfolio, said Curtiss. "We have a diversified portfolio, which has returned 9.7 percent for the last 35 years."

Mayor Stothert said the new projection should be celebrated but there is more work to do. "We have not crossed the finish line yet. We will continue to push for further pension reform, to protect the City and the taxpayers from future liability. The City must be able to manage the budget with a pension system that is more predictable than the plan we currently have and protects taxpayers against market fluctuations."

The Mayor gave credit to the negotiating teams, "In the end, we have two contracts that resulted in the report we have today."

Read theCavanaugh Macdonaldreport.


The Omaha Civilians Union, Local 251, voted Tuesday to reject the City’s contract offer.

“We provided a solution that is fair to our employees and did not place increased burden on the taxpayers,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “The unions must share the responsibility for pension reform. Without a solution, the Civilian Union pension will go broke. This vote is very disappointing.”

Discussions between the City and Local 251 leadership have continued since the vote and there may be a middle ground. The City understands the union plans to make another counter offer and is waiting for a specific proposal which could lead to a second vote by union membership.


The mayors of Omaha and Council Bluffs unveiled plans Tuesday to rebrand and expand Omaha B-cycle into Council Bluffs.. The new name is Heartland B-cycle,becoming only the second multi-state bike sharing program in the country.

"Bike sharing achieves many goals,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “It’s safe, convenient, good for your health and the air quality. It's also a business recruiting tool that helps our community remain competitive with other cities that want to attract and retain talent."

Now in its fourth season, Omaha B-cycle, will add 20 new kiosks across the region, bringing the total to 31 in the Omaha metro area. The system is currently operating five kiosks in Aksarben Village/UNO campus and six kiosks in downtown Omaha with a total of 57 bicycles. Six of the new kiosks (with bikes) will be installed around Council Bluffs.

The B-cycle program is made possible through private and corporate sponsorships, becoming self-sufficient through individual rides and memberships. “Offering bikes downtown exceeded our expectations in interest and ridership,”saidprogram director Ben Turner. “In the last year we have installed six stations downtown and ridership has skyrocketed. This next expansion is a natural evolution of B-cycle becoming a permanent part of our transportation system throughout the region.”

The Iowa West Foundation is one of the organizations providing funding for the expansion.“The expansion of B-cycle into Council Bluffs and throughout the area exemplifies our long held position that partnerships and cooperation among metro area communities is critical to the success of this region,” said Pete Tulipana, President and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. “Residents and visitors alike desire amenities that improve their quality of life, and projects such as B-cycle do just that. In the strategic plan of the Iowa West Foundation, we cite an intended outcome of ‘strong healthy families’ in the region. Our initiative and support of the B-cycle expansion takes us closer to this intended outcome. Congratulations to B-cycle and all its partners.”

Other organizations providing funding include The Nebraska Environmental Trust, Peter Kiewit Foundation, Sherwood Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield Nebraska, CHI Health, The Wellmark Foundation, Union Pacific, University of Nebraska Omaha, and the National Park Service.

One of the first downtown bike stations is on the plaza at Omaha City Hall. "I know the bike sharing program is a success because I can see the rack from my office window and it's often empty," said Mayor Stothert.

Anew Heartland B-cycle location will be the ConAgra campus.“ConAgra Foods is thrilled to add B-cycle stations to our campus in downtown Omaha,“ said Chris Kircher, Vice-President of Corporate Affairs and President of the ConAgra Foods Foundation. “B-Cycle will provide a convenient and fun new way for our employees and the general public to get around our campus and visit nearby attractions. In addition, the availability of bicycles fits nicely with ConAgra Foods’ commitment to health and wellness and sustainability.” For more information on Heartland B-cycle go toheartland.bcycle.com

New Station Locations:

Council Bluffs:

Tom Hanafan River's Edge Park

Ameristar

1st & Broadway

Broadway & Main

711 S Main St

Pearl St & Willow Ave

Omaha:

50th & Underwood

10th & Dodge

15th & Howard

14th & Farnam

9th & Jones

15th & Dodge

Elmwood Park

24th & Lake

10th & Cass

12th & Harney

10th & Farnam

Lewis & Clark Landing

Durham Museum

7th & Jones


Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert has named the first members of the Omaha Municipal Land Bank Board of Directors.

The Nebraska Legislature authorized local land banks in 2013, allowing cities to establish land banks to acquire delinquent properties. The Omaha Municipal Land Bank was created by Omaha city ordinance and approved by the City Council in July.

“Land banking is another tool that gives us the ability to redevelop all over the city; north Omaha, south Omaha, Millard, all neighborhoods can benefit by creating more affordable housing and safe neighborhoods,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

State law requires each member of the Board of Directors to represent one of the city’s seven city council districts, demonstrate expertise in community and economic development and have specific professional experience in one of the following sectors: Banking, Real Estate Development, Chamber of Commerce, one realtor, one representative of a non-profit corporation involved in affordable housing and one member to represent owners of multiple residential or commercial properties.

Mayor Stothert solicited recommendations from City Council members, reviewed approximately 60 applicants for the board and interviewed nearly 20 candidates. In addition to the seven voting members required by law, five non-voting members have also been selected.

LAND BANK BOARD OF DIRECTORS:

District One: Tom McLeay, Real Estate Developer Representative

McLeay is President of Clarity Development Company, a partner at Smith, Gardner & Slusky Law Firm, and a member of the Metropolitan Omaha Property Owners Association.

District Two: Ken Johnson, At-Large Member

Johnson is President and Managing Member of K.E. Johnson Consulting, LLC. He serves on the Board of Directors for 75 North Redevelopment Corporation and the Omaha Small Business Network, Inc. Johnson is a retired City of Omaha employee. He worked for 20 years as the Economic Development Manager.

District Three: Jamie Berglund, Non-Profit Corporation-Affordable Housing

Berglund is a member of the Omaha Housing Authority Board of Commissioners and President of the Metro Area Continuum of Care for the Homeless. She is employed by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce as Senior Director of Community Development.

District Four: Spencer Danner, Banking

Danner is a Community Reinvestment Officer with Mutual of Omaha Bank. He serves on the Omaha 100 Board of Directors. His previous volunteer service includes Habitat for Humanity, Family Housing Advisory Services, Urban League and Omaha Economic Development Corporation.

District 5: Randy Lenhoff, Realtor

Lenhoff is the Chief Executive Officer of Seldin Company and Chairman and CEO of World Group LLC. He has been a licensed real estate broker in Nebraska since 1980.

District 6: Scott Semrad, Multiple Residential/Commercial Properties)

Semrad is the co-founder and Manager of Urban Village Development Inc. The company has renovated and managed more than 20 apartment buildings since it was founded in 2008.

District 7: Cathy Lang, Chamber of Commerce

Lang is a member of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce. She is the Chief Operating Officer and Vice-President of Accelerate Nebraska. Previously, Lang was Director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Commissioner of Labor.

NON-VOTING MEMBERS:

Mike Riedmann, President NP Dodge Real Estate Sales Inc

Julie Stavneak, J. Development Company

Julia Plucker, Attorney, partner Heartland Strategy Group

John Heine, Commercial Real Estate Broker, Investors Realty

Diane Battiato, Douglas County Register of Deeds

The Mayor’s appointments will be forwarded to the Omaha City Council for approval. “This is an extremely qualified Board of Directors,” said Mayor Stothert. “I encourage the Council to support my appointments so the Board can begin its work this fall.”

The Mayor’s appointments will be forwarded to the Omaha City Council for approval. “This is an extremely qualified Board of Directors,” said Mayor Stothert. “I encourage the Council to support my appointments so the Board can begin its work this fall.”