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Effective August 1, the Omaha Fire Department plans to implement a new system to transport trauma patients to Omaha hospitals.

In March, the Nebraska Medical Center announced it would end the long-standing shared trauma system with Alegent Creighton Hospital. Under that system, in place since 1993, the two hospitals are designated as trauma centers on alternating days. Beginning August 1, both hospitals plan to operate trauma centers around the clock and both plan to apply for Level I Trauma Center national accreditation.

The Omaha Fire Department EMS Committee, OFD Command staff, Paramedic shift supervisors and the Midlands Protocol Committee have worked for several months to develop a Trauma Center Transport Protocol that ensures the continuation of quality patient care. “Patient care is our priority,” said Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger. “This plan is fair and balanced and provides emergency medical care and transportation when citizens need our immediate help.”

The new protocol will set up an odd-even rotation between the Nebraska Medical Center and Alegent Creighton for adult patients only. Patients who are in stable condition may choose either trauma center for emergency care. Non-stable patients will be automatically transported to the designated trauma center of the day based on the odd-even system.

The pediatric trauma protocol will not change. Pediatric patients will continue to be treated at Children’s Hospital and the Nebraska Medical Center, depending on the severity of their injuries.

The change is expected to take effect at 7:00 a.m. on August 1.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert announced Wednesday that she will create the Mayor’s Active Living Advisory Committee. The volunteer board will provide the forum for community input and recommendations to promote many aspects of active living, including transportation and recreation.

“We have to look at all ways people commute in our community; that includes bikes, pedestrians and public transportation. If we want Omaha to grow and be more competitive those things are important to people coming into the community and they’re important to us too,” said Mayor Stothert. “An advisory board of stakeholders will provide me with more input than I have now.”

The 2015 recommended city budget eliminates the position of Bicycle Pedestrian Coordinator, created in 2011 and funded with grants which are expiring. The Mayor did not allocate general fund money for the position in 2015.

“We are encouraged that Mayor Stothert is taking this step to form an official Mayoral Committee to help guide her in making great decisions that benefit all people regardless of how they move around our community,” said Live Well Omaha Executive Director Anne Meysenburg.

The Mayor has signed an Executive Order to create the Active Living Advisory Committee and appointed Live Well Omaha Program Manager Julie Harris as committee chairperson. Committee members will be recommended by the chair and appointed by the Mayor. The Planning, Public Works and Parks Departments will also be represented on the committee.

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert proposed the 2015 budget Tuesday, including a property tax rate cut, the first cut since 2001.

“Every property owner benefits from this tax rate cut,” said Mayor Stothert. “Most people tell me they want property tax relief. This is the fiscally responsible thing to do.” The reduction will result in citizens paying about two million dollars less in property taxes next year.

The Mayor set three goals for the 2015 budget: tax relief, increase the cash reserve fund and pay down the debt. This budget achieves all three.

The budget proposal adds $750,000 to cash reserve, resulting in a $6 million balance; a record high. The contingent liability fund will be increased by $650,000, increasing the fund to $1.9 million dollars.

Overall general fund spending would increase 2.3% over the current year, including slight increases in the fire and police department budgets. The police budget includes hiring 21 additional officers in 2015.

“This important enhancement to our crime fighting efforts will result in budgeting for 825 sworn officers for our city in 2015. It also approaches my long-term goal of 840 sworn officers, which we will achieve in 2016. We must continue the progress we are making to reduce violent crime. The personal safety of all citizens is without a doubt, our most important responsibility.”

Budget highlights include:

  • 21 additional police officers
  • Continued funding for the neighborhood grant program and significantly increased funding for neighborhood alliance support
  • A large increase in funding for the Step-Up summer jobs program
  • Additional funding for our convention and tourism efforts to increase promotion, attract more visitors, and build on the reputation we have as a great city for regional and national sports and other events
  • City parks, swimming pools, and libraries will remain open with no change in hours
  • Increased street resurfacing budget by $200,000 to a total of $7.1 million
  • The budget for brick street repair will be doubled
  • Maintain nearly $1 million dollars in demolition and fill nine positions for building inspectors
  • An initial investment of 150-thousand dollars for an Omaha Land Bank

The Omaha City Council will hold a public hearing on the budget on Tuesday, August 12 at 7:00 p.m. in the Legislative Chambers, 1810 Farnam. The Mayors budget speech to the City Council is available on line at http://mayors-office.cityofomaha.org. There is also a link to the recommended budget.

Responding to complaints about delays in yard waste collection, the Omaha Public Works Department met Wednesday with Deffenbaugh Industries management, requiring immediate corrective actions.

Deffenbaugh attributes delays to the unusually wet weather in June and July, causing a significant delay in yard waste and a shortage of CDL-licensed drivers.For example, on a recent day in July, 120 tons of yard waste was collected, compared to an average 80 tons per day.

The company currently has eleven drivers for yard waste collection, 18-19 are needed. Two additional drivers have been hired and will start Monday July 21, four others are in training. That will bring the number of qualified drivers to nearly correct staffing levels by early next month. The company will also hire a local Recruiting Manager to be based in Omaha and focus on employee recruitment in the local area.

Deffenbaugh is currently collecting yard waste Monday-Saturday, which will continue indefinitely. Yard waste trucks now have three-person crews to speed up neighborhood collections.

“The complaints from taxpayers are valid. We have had 109 complaints to the Mayor's Hotline since July 1. We take this very seriously,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “Deffenbaugh has a contract to provide that service and we expect the company to remedy this problem.”

Delays in pickup should be reported to the Mayor’s Hotline 402-444-5555. More information about all solid waste collection is available at wasteline.org

The 2014 annexation package will be presented to the Omaha Planning Board and the Omaha City Council this month. The plan includes thirteen SIDs, four business parks and the Miracle Hills Golf Course. This is the first annexation package proposed since 2012 and one of the largest in recent history. Homeowners and businesses will receive information this week about annexation, city services and an informational open house.

The total valuation of the areas to be annexed is $932,359,380. The 2010 Census data shows the population of the SIDs is 8,752.

“It’s important for the City to continue growing,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “This annexation package will increase city revenues and in most cases decrease residential property taxes in the areas to be annexed.”

The informational Open House will be held July 16th, 6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at Burke High School, 12200 Burke Boulevard. The Omaha Planning Board will hold a public hearing July 21st,the City Council public hearing is scheduled August 12 with a final vote on August 19th. The anticipated effective date of the annexation is September 3.

"We are committed to providing quality customer service. These neighborhoods will immediately receive all the services provided by the City, including police and fire protection, solid waste collection, street maintenance and snow removal without increasing the city budget,” said Mayor Stothert.

The proposed areas to be annexed are:


Riverside Hills SID 281 Near 222nd and Pacific

Brookhaven SID 294 South of 108th and Q

Turtle Creek SID 295 South of 96th & Q

Harper Valley SID 301 South of 48th & Q

Eagle Run III SID 365 South of 144th & Maple

Cambridge Estates SID 366 168TH & Pacific

Woodbridge SID 373 North of 72nd & Crown Point

Mission Park SID 376 South of 168th & Q

Baywood SID 382 North of 180th & F

Linden Estates SID 397 North of Dodge, 132nd to 144

2nd Addition

Pacific Springs SID 398 North of 160th & Pacific

Skyline Meadows SID 408 Near 222 & West Dodge

Arbor Oaks SID 418 Northwest of 144th & Maple


Southwestern Plaza SID 407 South of 144TH & F

Altech Business Park SID 422 North of 144TH & F

I-80 Business Park SID 436 Near 115th south of Q

Blondo 108th Business Park SID 510 108TH & Blondo

Miracle Hills Golf Course North of 120th & Dodge

Annexed areas will be subject to most City sales and use taxes in early 2015. Over the next 10 years, the City projects to collect approximately $10 million dollars in additional sales tax.

Omaha, NE - Omaha Police Union Local 101 filed a lawsuit in Douglas County District Court June 25th asking the court to extend the current collective bargaining agreement through the end of 2014. The current contract expired at the end of 2013.The union claims that the City did not provide "written notice" of its desire to negotiate for 2014. The City believes the union's position is frivolous because negotiations had already started.

The contract contains a provision where one party is required to inform the other of its desire to open negotiations prior to April 1. The City’s negotiator met with the Union President to begin the negotiation process on February 27, 2014. During their initial meeting, the Union President made a specific offer. The City’s negotiator responded to the union’s offer on March 19, 2014 with a counter proposal and the parties subsequently debated their respective positions over the next several weeks. The City believes there is little doubt, contrary to the union’s assertions in the lawsuit, that negotiations had already commenced by April 1, 2014.

When the City responded to the union’s offer with additional terms the union disliked, the union, rather than responding, manufactured this technical gotcha argument to avoid the potential consequences of good faith negotiations.

Mayor Stothert called the lawsuit troubling, “The police union’s position is a clear indication that the union leadership is afraid to be a partner in badly needed health care and pension reforms.”

The City will challenge the union’s claims and remains committed to addressing health insurance and pension reform immediately.

After more than a year of review, Mayor Jean Stothert will ask the City Council to approve an increase in sewer use fees to comply with the federal mandate to meet the Federal Clean Water Act standards.

Omaha is one of 772 communities in the United States required to carry out the unfunded mandate. The total projected cost of the Clean Solutions for Omaha Program is estimated at $2 billion dollars before the anticipated completion in 2027; Omaha is currently in the third year of construction.

The proposed annual rate increases, developed with assistance from the City’s rate consultant, Red Oak Consulting, are necessary to meet the construction requirements and deadlines set by the federal government. Residential, commercial and industrial users will all pay higher rates beginning in 2015.

“I have spent the last year studying and re-evaluating the CSO project, looking for ways to manage costs and protect the taxpayers from hardship. I met with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, Omaha Public Works and the rate consultants,” said Mayor Stothert. “The proposed increases in this ordinance are lower than we anticipated but still represent significant and necessary increases to comply with the federal requirements.”

The average residential customer currently pays $35.26 per month. In 2015, the monthly average bill will increase to $39.67, $43.19 in 2016, $47.02 in 2017 and $51.17 in 2018. “Without a rate ordinance in place, there is concern we could default on our bond payments. We must demonstrate to the bond raters that we have a long-term plan in place to pay for this.”

Rate increases are expected to continue beyond 2018, averaging 9% each year for the duration of the project.

Sewer use fees fund the regular operation and maintenance of the daily collection and treatment of wastewater. The higher rates will fund a portion of the city’s bond debt on the CSO program.

By the EPA’s definition, these rates do not yet place Omaha in the high-burden category for ratepayers. However, a hardship fund is in place for qualifying residential customers who cannot afford these increases. “We are setting aside money every year in the Ratepayer Assistance Fund to help customers who need assistance,” said Mayor Stothert.

The fund was created in 2011 with one million dollars; additional funds are deposited every year. Residents who qualify for Nebraska's Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) will also qualify for sewer rate assistance. The process is managed through the Metropolitan Utilities District and the assistance is reflected on the resident's M.U.D. bill.In 2013, approximately $700,000 was paid to customers who qualify.

Industrial and commercial users will also pay higher rates, depending on the amount and strength of waste discharged. Even with the increases, non-residential rates remain among the lowest in the country.

Numerous factors have helped keep the proposed rate increase as low as possible,including lower bond interest rates than originally projected, low-interest state loans totaling $55 million dollars, more than $1 million annually from LB 1098, passed by the Nebraska Legislature, $2.1 million in grants, a competitive climate for construction work, cost-saving project designs and an extended completion deadline approved after the 2011 flood.

More than 100 construction projects are planned or underway to improve the water quality to the Missouri River and the Papillion Creek; generally east of 72nd street. Over the next ten years, approximately $150 million in work will be completed annually. “I have challenged our CSO management team to continue to work on project designs and technological solutions that are cost effective and have direct impact to lower the overall program costs. Since the program moved from the planning to design phase, we have saved over $35 million dollars,” said Mayor Stothert.

The goal of the CSO project is a 94% reduction of human waste bacteria in the Missouri River and Papillion Creek.Cities that do not comply face fines, federal lawsuits, and court supervision, driving up costs for the taxpayers.

The rate ordinance will be introduced to the City Council for first reading on Tuesday June 24. A public hearing and vote is scheduled for July 1

Omaha, NE – The campground and marina at Omaha’s N.P. Dodge Park will be closed tomorrow (Wednesday June 18) at 10:00 a.m. in preparation for potential flooding along the Missouri River.

The National Weather Service estimates rainfall totals north of Omaha over the last 24 hours range from 2-8” and is forecasting more rain over the next five days.

Tonight, the Missouri River at Omaha is at 22 feet. Flood stage is 29 feet. Over the next 18 hours, the river is expected to rise six feet to 28’. By Sunday, the river could reach 30.4’ and could remain over flood stage for four to five days.

“The safety of people using N.P. Dodge Park is our first priority,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. Campers are being notified tonight they must leave the park by Wednesday morning. They will be offered campsites at Lake Cunningham or receive refunds.

Boat owners have also been notified the marina will close so precautions can be taken to protect and stabilize the docks. Boat owners can remove their boats before 10:00 a.m. More than 340 boats are stored at the marina. “This is expected to be a short-term situation,” said Parks Director Brook Bench. “We think the boats will be safe in the marina.” Bench says it’s possible the entire park will be closed. A decision could be made Wednesday.

Freedom Park would also flood again if the Missouri River exceeds flood stage. The park has been closed since the 2011 flood.

The Omaha Public Works Department is also taking precautions at the Missouri River Wastewater Treatment Plant, south of Veteran’s Memorial Bridge. Public Works Director Bob Stubbe says a 4-5 foot berm will be built south of the administration building to provide protection to the plant area not currently protected by the levee.

The City will monitor the forecast and the river and provide an update Wednesday.

Omaha, NE - Negotiations on the purchase agreement on the Ames-Locust property have been extended 90 days to review the environmental study of the property. The environmental study was part of the purchase agreement reached with property owners Virgil and Virginia Anderson. The City agreed to pay $1.9 million for the property, contingent on the results of the environmental study. That evaluation began immediately after the agreement was signed. The results show the cost to clean up the property will be tens of millions of dollars more than anticipated.

"This is an important development with the potential to attract new business and jobs to north Omaha. We proposed to acquire this property for $1.9 million, less than the $3 million asking price, with the understanding we would likely have additional costs to create a shovel-ready site for developers," said Mayor Jean Stothert. "However, the projected cost of the clean-up requires a reevaluation of this site and a second look for other available properties in the area. Taxpayers cannot be on the hook for a multi-million dollar bill."

Mayor Stothert has asked Congressman Lee Terry to explore federal funding to assist with the cleanup. Congressman Terry shares the Mayor's desire to develop the Ames-Locust site. He is consulting with environmental experts to identify potential funding sources with federal dollars.

Financing for the original purchase price includes $500,000 in City funds, $450,000 from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development Site and Building Development Fund, and one million dollars from the Omaha Development Foundation.

The Ames-Locust property is a 68-acre site in northeast Omaha, 11th Street to 16th Street, Locust to Ames. Both the City and the Greater Omaha Chamber of commerce have been contacted by businesses interested in the property for industrial development.

One of the best-loved summer pastimes will be free this summer for kids 8-14 years old. Omaha Parks and Recreation announced the "Junior Golf Club of Omaha" Friday night at the Spring into Summer event at Elmwood Park.

It works like this: When you join the club, you will sign up for a golf clinic, taught by one of our golf pros. You will learn the fundamentals of the game, course safety and golf rules andetiquette. After you complete the class, you'll receive a Junior Players Card. You can play any of the city's four nine-hole golf courses for free on weekdays, and on weekends if you are with one adult who pays the usual fees.

Free clubs and other equipment will be available to club members who play at Westwood Golf Course at 129th and West Center.

"The Junior Golf Club gives kids an opportunity to participate in oneof our country's favorite sports. They will learn respect, etiquetteand patience and have fun doing it. We're happy to make thisopportunity possible," said Mayor Jean Stothert.

Participating golf courses are: Westwood, Warren Swigart at 3865 ParkviewDrive, Spring Lake at 4020 Hoctor Blvd., and Steve Hogan Golf Course at 6315 N. 30th Street.

Free golf will begin May 27th. For more information go tohttp://www.cityofomaha.org/parks/home/discovery-guide.