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Mayor Jean Stothert | City of Omaha

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(November 10, 2016)

New budget projections show the 2016 fiscal year will end with a budget surplus over $9 million, higher than earlier estimates.  The third quarter report, released today, shows all city departments will end the year at or under budget.  Projected sales tax revenue is on budget, restaurant tax and motor vehicle taxes are slightly over budget. 

Taxpayers can be confident in our budgeting process.  No one likes surprises,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “When you are spending the taxpayer’s money, you must correctly forecast revenues and expenses.  We have done both consistently for the last four years.”

End of year expense projections:

  • Omaha Police – even
  • Omaha Fire – under $392,429
  • Human Resources - under $27,128
  • Mayor’s Office – under $55,732
  • Public Works – under $166,150
  • Finance – under $194,502
  • Planning- under $99,320
  • Parks, Library, Convention & Visitors are expected to be at budget

End of year revenue projections remain unchanged from the second quarter report:

  • Motor Vehicle Taxes-$1.3 million surplus
  • City Sales and Use Tax- at budget of $149.4 million
  • Restaurant Tax - $1.6 million surplus
  • Utility Occupation Taxes - $2.8 million under (This is the telephone tax.  Revenue decline is due to decline in use of land lines)

“This report shows yet again that improving city services and reducing the tax burden can be achieved and still end the year with a surplus,” said Mayor Stothert. 

”My goal is to have a 2 or 3% surplus every year.  This prevents any changes or reductions in city services if revenue deficits occur during the year,” said Finance Director Steve Curtiss. “To ensure accuracy in our estimates, we constantly analyze local and national economic trends and apply that data to our real time finances.  Using this strategy, we have had a surplus each of the four years of Mayor Stothert’s term.”  

The largest savings continues to be in health care expenses, estimated at $7.5 million.  Actual  health care costs are below the national health care expense rates. The 2016 budget includes $63.5 million in health care expenses for current and retired employees.

As required by the City Charter, an end-of-year surplus must be carried over to the 2018 budget or used for cash reserve.  Surplus funds cannot be spent in 2016 or 2017.

(November 7, 2016)

Omaha residents will test a new program to reduce the amount of plastic in the landfill.

Homeowners already selected to participate in the Waste Management pilot program to test automated trash, yard waste and recyclable collections, will also test the Hefty Energy Bag program.    

The Hefty Energy Bag is an orange plastic bag used to discard plastics that are not recycled, including toothpaste tubes, plastic cups, plates and bowls, candy wrappers, packing peanuts, plastic utensils and many other food packaging items. (complete list attached) 

These items are placed in the energy bag, which is then placed inside the recycling cart and collected during regular curbside pickup. 

The City’s recycling contractor, First Star Recycling, ships the bags to Systech Environmental Corporation where the bag and its contents are converted into energy to produce cement. 

Omaha’s test of an automated trash, yard waste and recycling program begins the week of November 7.  Five neighborhoods, with 2,500 homes, have been selected to participate in the pilot for the next six months.  The Hefty Energy Bags will be delivered to homes in late November.  During the pilot, all recyclables will be collected biweekly, trash and yard waste will be collected weekly. ((see previous news release  http://mayors-office.cityofomaha.org/city-news/256-mayor-announces-pilot-program-to-test-alternate-trash-collection))

“It makes sense to test the energy bag program now, as we plan for the future of solid waste collection and disposal,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.  “Public feedback is always an important part of making changes that affect taxpayers.”     

Hefty Energy Bags have been available in the Omaha metro area since September for Recycle Bank members (https://www.recyclebank.com)

(October 26, 2016)

A series of changes in the City's snow removal policies will begin this year, based on a citizen survey and an internal evaluation of current practices.

"I have said before, we can do better, and we will do better," said Mayor Jean Stothert. "These changes are responsive to what the citizens tell us they expect."   

 The survey was developed by Q.E.M., an independent research company.  The questions were based on a typical snow event, not a blizzard, or a severe ice storm. Citizens also had the opportunity to make suggestions and offer criticism of the city’s snow removal operations.

The City provided three ways to participate. Q.E.M identified 1,400 households, 200 in each city council district that received the survey by mail in July.  These surveys were returned anonymously.

The survey was also on Mayor Stothert's website and returned through the Mayor’s Hotline.  Citizens who used this electronic option had to provide their name and address to verify they live in Omaha. City council members provided the names of additional constituents in their districts to receive the survey.

299 people returned the mail survey or 21%.  Q.E.M. considers that consistent with typical survey participation results.  Nineteen of the 61 people recommended by the City Council returned surveys, and 33 responses came through the mayor’s website.

 The survey focused on snow removal on major, secondary and residential streets,  snow emergency procedures and the public’s level of satisfaction with current procedures.  

The survey shows 43% of the respondents want major and secondary streets passable at all times, 39% expect majors and secondary streets to be dry within 24 hours after the snow ends.

Three-fourths of those surveyed, 73%, want residential streets plowed when there are more than two inches of snow, only after the majors and secondary streets are plowed. Most say they do not expect their street to be plowed to bare pavement.

Omaha’s current snow emergency procedure includes the odd-even parking ban on residential streets east of 72nd Street, where many people park on the street because off-street parking is not available.  The survey results show 79% think the odd-even parking plan is clear or easy to follow,  23% think it’s poorly enforced, only 15% percent think it’s effective.

The survey also shows most people would not support a citywide, total street parking ban during a snow emergency. However, those who would support a total ban live in City Council districts 5, 6, and 7,  west of 72nd street.

About two-thirds of the people surveyed are generally satisfied with the timing and quality of snow removal on the major and secondary roads., half are satisfied with residential snow removal.  The lowest “satisfaction” scores are in the areas of sidewalks, ticketing during snow emergencies, and responses to specific citizen requests.

Everyone who answered the survey could also make specific suggestions, and complaints.

The most frequent complaints are about plows pushing snow onto driveways and sidewalks, plowing cul-de-sacs, and covering crosswalks and ADA ramps at intersections.

The survey also showed citizens do not support an increase in the wheel tax to pay for improved or additional services. "I would not support an increase in the wheel tax, but people do ask me about it and if higher taxes could pay for more employees and services, but I do not support increased taxes," said Mayor Stothert.  "The costs of the changes we will make are incorporated into our 2017 budget for snow and ice removal."

The survey, along with an internal review will lead to a number of changes in the City’s plan beginning now.

The changes are:

  • 16 new employees added to the Street Maintenance Division.  Hiring is underway.  Many will be on the job before January 1; the rest will start after the New Year.
  • Purchased new 14 single axle trucks.  Most have been delivered; the remaining equipment is expected in November.  These trucks replace old equipment and will be more reliable.  Fewer trucks will need maintenance during snow events.
  • Plowing in residential neighborhoods will begin when snow accumulation exceeds two inches.
  • Hired 21 private contractors for residential plowing.  These companies will have up to 215 trucks available.  Last winter:  17 private contractors
  • A new 90,000-gallon brine tank has been installed at the at the new street maintenance yard at 18th and Jaynes.  More brine can be produced and stored than ever before.
  • The new yard will also enhance our services in northeast and downtown Omaha.
  • We have more companies (4) under contract to provide inspections of residential streets.  These companies have expertise in engineering, surveying and construction inspections.  The number of inspectors will increase from 15 to 26.
  • Personnel and equipment from the Parks Department and construction, traffic and sewer maintenance divisions will back-up plows on the major streets.  This provides more frequent plowing on these important routes. 

The most apparent changes will be on residential streets.  Contractors will begin plowing when two inches of snow accumulates.  Previously, four inches of snow was the benchmark for residential streets.  Pretreating streets will begin on residential and secondary streets and will start 72 hours before a forecasted storm instead of the previous timeline of 36 hours.  "Our brine operation will be much more aggressive than we have been in the past," said Street Maintenance Engineer Austin Rowser.  "In the past, we were concerned brine would lose some of its effectiveness if we started too soon.  Studies and the experience of other communities show brine can be used successfully further out before a storm."

Q.E.M. did not charge for the study or the analysis of the results.  The city paid approximately $4,500 in related costs including mailing and data entry.

Click on the link below to review the entire survey:

QEM Snow Survey

 

A summary of the comments provided by the respondents:

 

I think, for the most part, the services are good.  We can always improve with input and ideas.  The City is doing a great job

Major streets, for the most part, are cleared very well.  (5)

I think things are good, we live in Nebraska where it snows.  The complainers are people who can’t drive in snow.  I commute from west Omaha to downtown and have never been stuck.  Plows shouldn’t even be out wasting taxpayer money for less than 4” of snow.

Overall, the plowers do a good job (7)

I like that the city hires private contractors

Service is more than satisfactory

City workers work hard to clear the streets, good job!

I was born and raised in Omaha, the services we receive today are far better than in the past.  Keep up the good work

I am impressed with PW and their snow removal plans

The current service is excellent compared to other places I have lived

Current service is satisfactory

The city does a great job with pretreatment and snow removal.  The # of lane miles in the city presents a daunting challenge but the overall quality of work is very high.  Keep up the good work

No complaints, a fine job is being done.  A little patience by the public would go a long way

I have not seen any major problems (2)

Overall very good service, only suggestion is more oversight of contractors

Our streets are cleared much faster and better since the city started hiring contractors

They always do an excellent job plowing my neighborhood, they even make sure they don’t plow my driveway shut

I think we had some back luck last winter with storms hitting at rush hour, PW rebounded nicely.  Keep up the good work

Thank you for trying to improve snow removal in our city

Snow plowed into corners of intersections covering sidewalks, school crosswalks and ADA ramps  (5)

Spraying the roads in advance is not being used effectively. (2)

Use non-corrosive and eco-friendly deicing agents (2)

The city should be more proactive and pre-treat all streets before a snow event (3)

Plowing of residential streets is too late and the first pass is incomplete

Snow removal very rare on residential streets

Odd-even parking system doesn’t work

Enforce the snow emergency parking rules (4)

I have never heard of the odd-even parking system, better communication about snow emergency rules is needed  (2)

Snow emergency should apply everywhere, not just east of 72 Street (2)

Contractors should be able to spread salt and pre-treat

The question about increasing the wheel tax is ludicrous.

Raise the wheel tax if necessary to do a better job on residential streets. The wheel tax is already outrageous

We live in a circle. It would make sense to plow the snow to the center of the circle.  Public Works plows to the outside of the circle, blocking driveways and mailboxes with several feet of snow.  (7)

We live in an area with paved alleys.  They are never plowed.  I have called in the past and never has a plow come through until a Deffenbaugh truck got stuck last year.   (2)

The issue is with residential and secondary streets. The streets in my neighborhood are never completely cleared.  They will receive a pass by the plow, enough for my car to get through, but there is no followup to clear the street to the pavement.  I would like the City to focus on residential and secondary streets and clear them to the pavement.

Bike lanes are nearly never cleared. Bike lanes are treated as a place to dump snow This survey is highly biased toward drivers. Waiting weeks to get a sidewalk cleared is unacceptable. They should be cleared in a day or two.

Snow removal in my west Omaha development is terrible. It takes forever for anyone to come and the vehicles are not sufficient for proper snow removal.  After several snows, we do not see dry pavement until spring.  Snow removal patterns are erratic at best.  Residential intersections are left with walls of snow. This creates highly hazardous conditions. The small plow pickup trucks seem to get pleasure out of filling driveways with an icy mess.

I chose to buy a home on an unpaved street, however, I expect my street to be serviced as well. We struggle with this every winter. 

I have plowed our street for 35 years, the city comes in and does it 3-5 days later.  Then they dump salt on our gravel road and destroy it. What does it take to keep the city from destroying our road and let me take care of it? 

There is always a lot of ice on our corner. I call repeatedly and no one ever comes to salt the street.

Strict enforcement of sidewalk clearing is needed (3)

Sometimes the same streets are plowed repeatedly and others are neglected. (2)

Plow drivers should not cover sidewalks that have already been cleared by homeowners (10)

Plows should not push snow in front of driveways after the homeowner has already cleared the driveway (19) 

The main streets are done well but it does me no good if my street is not plowed (2)

Plows should drive the speed limit (8)

My car always gets plowed in.  Should plow to the middle of the street

Need better curb-to-curb clearance

Every winter it is over 24 hours before we get plowed

I call and still get no service

Snow removal is subpar to Cleveland,  Seattle, Boston and NYC  (2)

More attention to clearing snow from hilly streets (5)

I prefer that some snow be left on the streets for traction instead of plowing to the pavement

Can you make another pass past schools before dismissal?

You need more trucks and employees

Don’t wait until the snow stops to start plowing

Public Works is not focused on the customer

The timing and quality of residential plowing is inconsistent at best

Before Omaha annexed Elkhorn, our streets were always plowed overnight, we are never plowed now

Should use all city plows, no contractors, their trucks and plows aren’t adequate (3)

There needs to be city communication and stricter enforcement against those who blow snow into the street.  Blowing snow into the street should carry a heavy city fine. (4)

Do major and secondary streets first and keep them closed during the storm

Solution: a comprehensive monorail built above houses, or increase the number of plows and drivers

The Mayor does an excellent job trying to provide good service to all Omaha residents.  We are happy with the services and her continued transparency

As long as the primary and secondary streets are plowed within 3 hours, we are fine

Omaha drivers have become a little too demanding about snow removal (5)

Better communication with citizens about the level of service to expect

Publish a schedule of when secondary and residential streets will be plowed (2)

No plowing necessary when less than an inch of snow

Interstate 680 is always a mess

Our HOA told us the City will shovel sidewalks after we were annexed

I have only been stuck once, during the Blizzard of ‘75

(October 20, 2016)

For the first time in ten years, the Omaha Police Department is opening a new precinct.   The 120 Uniform Patrol Bureau officers assigned to the southwest precinct will move to the new building at the end of the month.

Mayor Jean Stothert, Police Chief Todd Schmaderer, donors, developers, builders and architects cut the ribbon today, officially opening the building.

“Thank you to Mayor Stothert and her forward vision for public safety in our city,” said Chief Schmaderer.  “As the City of Omaha grows, the location of this building allows us to provide great coverage to the southwest precinct.”

The precinct is located at 135th & Q on the south end of the new Lumber Yard District, the former Millard Lumber site. It replaces the current leased space that houses the precinct near 99th and Mockingbird Drive.  It’s the first new precinct built by the City in twenty years.  The northwest precinct at 30th and Ames was built in 1992-93, the southeast precinct at 2475 Deer Park Boulevard was built three years later.

“This is  yet another example of our significant and ongoing commitment to the safety of our citizens and to our police department,” said Mayor Stothert.  “Every time we cut a ribbon, we are celebrating progress. In the last three years, we have made significant  progress  towards  a safer city.  We are setting an enviable example for others cities across the country.”

In her first term, Mayor Stothert has worked with Chief Schmaderer to increase the number of officers on the street. “Right now we have a record number of police officers,  exceeding the three-year goal Chief Schmaderer and I set after a thorough analysis of our city’s law enforcement needs.  We are constantly  evaluating our sworn strength  and our next strategic staffing plan is being developed now,” said Mayor Stothert.   The number of officers has increased from 804 in 2013 to 860 next year.   

Construction on the $7.9 million dollar precinct started in January.  The building is more than 22,000 square feet, and includes a community room that is available for public meetings free of charge and a fitness center, paid for with a $25,000 dollar donation from Jerry and Linda Gordman.  “This is a state of the art facility that provides our officers with the resources they need to provide great service to our citizens,” said Chief Schmaderer.

OPD Captain Adam Kyle, who manages OPD facilities said he’s been trying for years to make this move. “I tried with three different Mayors to get this done,” said Kyle. “We need a Mayor, a Police Chief and a City Council who are all on the same sheet of music. This is the first Mayor to support it. It took this mix of people to get it accomplished.”

Mayor Stothert thanked Lanoha Development, the developer of The Lumber Yard District, General Contractor Robert Krause, the architect Holland Basham, and all the donors.     

(October 4, 2016)

Eight candidates for Omaha Fire Chief have completed the testing phase of the selection process.  The four candidates with the highest total scores have been notified and their names have been forwarded to Mayor Jean Stothert. 

Ten candidates initially applied for the position, eight completed the process which included the  training and experience written test,   a structured interview and an oral presentation.  The testing was conducted by an outside contractor, IO Solutions, and graded by a panel of fire chiefs serving in other cities. IO Solutions provides testing for open positions and promotions in the Omaha Fire and Police Departments.

 “This  position requires superior training  and operational experience, budget and personnel management, leadership skills  and public relations. We will make a decision that is good for the citizens of Omaha and good for the fire department,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.   

The highest-scoring candidates are Colorado Springs Fire Chief (retired) Christopher Riley, Spokane Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer, Omaha Fire Department Battalion Chief Robert Gottsch,  and Omaha Fire Department Battalion Chief Dan Stolinski.  

Riley retired as Fire Chief in Colorado Springs in March 2016.  He previously served as Fire Chief in Pueblo, Colorado.  His firefighter and fire management experience includes departments in Pasadena, Garden Grove and Costa Mesa, California.  He has a Masters Degree in Emergency Services Administration.

Schaeffer is currently the Assistant Fire Chief in Spokane, Washington. His firefighter, paramedic and fire management experience includes departments in Yakima, Washington, Wright City, Blue Springs, Warrensburg and Kansas City, Missouri. He has a Masters degree in Public Administration and is currently working on his Doctorate at Creighton University.

Gottsch has been employed by the Omaha Fire Department since 1993.  He has worked as a Firefighter, Fire Captain, Fire Investigator, and Battalion Chief. He is a veteran of the United States Navy and has a Masters Degree in Public Administration.

Stolinski began his career with the Millard Fire Department in 1997 and joined OFD in 1998.  He has held the positions of Firefighter, Fire Captain, Battalion Chief and Assistant Chief.  He has a Masters degree in Security Management.

Mayor Stothert will initially interview these four candidates.  Others  on the list could also be considered including Interim Fire Chief Dan Olsen, who did not finish in the top four.

“This has been  a detailed and fair testing process and just one  phase of the overall selection process which will include the candidates’ work performance and references, ” said Human Resources Director Mikki Frost.   

A decision is expected to be announced by the end of the year.  Dan Olsen will remain Interim Chief until a selection is made.

                                                           

(October 3, 2016)

It’s a street that recognizes the past, provides opportunities in the present, and plans for the future.

The South 24th Street Business District between “L” and “Q” Streets has been recognized as one of the Great Streets in America by the American Planning Association. APA President Carol Rhea presented the award to Mayor Jean Stothert and City Councilman Garry Gernandt Monday in a ceremony at Plaza de la Raza.

“What better place than Omaha to celebrate our Great Streets,” said Rhea. “South 24th Street is an example of what makes streets great places.”

Each October, during National Community Planning Month, the APA recognizes streets, neighborhoods and public spaces for exceptional character, quality and planning.  Omaha is one of the 15 cities receiving the 2016 award. “Planning has a significant impact on how we live, work and play.  During this month, we highlight thoughtful, deliberate planning. I hope it serves as a catalyst for even more thoughtful planning in Omaha and other cities,” said Rhea.

Mayor Stothert recognized the collaboration between City of Omaha planners and community groups that led to the redevelopment of 24th Street.

“We recognize the history of South 24th street as the busy, prosperous main street in Omaha’s early years; rich in cultural traditions, and heritage,” said Mayor Stothert. “The small businesses that line the street today again show the fruits of hard work and determination.  Community groups provide essential services, such as job training, and tutoring.   The design of the street, the artwork, sculpture and landscape create an inviting community space.  South 24th street is truly one of our most unique spaces.”

The APA called South 24th Street a “Midwestern wonderland” that puts pedestrians first.  The award also complimented the street widening project, sidewalk mosaics, unique lighting and landscaping.

The South Omaha Neighborhood Alliance, representing thirty neighborhood associations and community groups has been instrumental in the development of South 24th Street.  SONA President Athena Ramos said, “This award is recognition of the hard work and collaborative spirit of the south Omaha community.”

The enthusiasm and optimism is shared by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.   “This is the result of the hard work of the businesses you see here, and they are all here,” said Chamber President Yesenia Peck.  “The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is excited and proud of our progress.”

Many of the small business owners along South 24th street attended the announcement of the Great Streets Award.  “We believe this street captures the charm of our city and Omaha is a beautiful city,” said South Omaha Business Association President Madeline Moyer.

Omaha City Council Member Garry Gernandt, a life-long resident of south Omaha, thanked all the partners involved in the planning, design and implantation of the streetscape. “One thing important to me is the We factor, we being government and neighborhood groups,” said Gernandt. “We did it!”

The other cities recognized for having “Great Streets” are Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Ketchum, Idaho, Bronx, New York and Davidson, North Carolina.

    

(September 2, 2016)

Several major state highways within the Omaha city limits will be resurfaced ahead of schedule.

The Nebraska  Department of Roads has notified the City that federal funds have been allocated for the following projects:

  • Highway 64 (West Maple Road),  from Ramblewood Street (west of Elkhorn) east to 108th Street
  • Highway 64  from the Benson Business District east, then south to Cuming Street
  • L-28K from the Benson Business District northwest past the south side of Benson Park,  past Marian High School and continuing to 90th & Blair High Road
  • Highway N-133 (90th Street) Dodge Street north to Blair High Road,  Blair High Road to Interstate 680

The Federal Highway Administration has distributed a total of $19 million to Nebraska in repurposed earmarked federal funds for transportation projects.  Omaha will receive $14.1 million for the projects listed above.  No city funds will be used.

“This is a tremendous addition to our already aggressive plans for safety improvements and resurfacing on our streets,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “We are grateful to the Nebraska Department of Roads for choosing these high traffic roads for improvements.”

Mayor Stothert's 2017 budget includes $10.7 million for street resurfacing; the 2017 Capital Improvement Plan includes $40 million in transportation projects.

The state projects listed above are scheduled to begin in 2019. 

(September 1, 2016)

Budget projections show the City of Omaha 2016 fiscal year will end with a budget surplus estimated at $7 million.  

The second quarter report, released today, shows all city departments are expected to be at or under budget and projected revenues are slightly under budget.  “This report shows we are committed to managing your tax dollars carefully,” said Mayor Jean Stothert. “We have increased  funding  for the services our citizens say are most important, especially public safety and street improvements.  By running every department efficiently,  we are able to deliver and improve  quality services and still find savings.”

The expense report shows:

  • Omaha Police – under $332,059
  • Omaha Fire – under $231,330
  • Human Resources - under $108, 170
  • Mayor’s Office – under $46,097
  • Public Works – under $3,510
  • Finance – under $167,385               

The revenue report shows:

  • Motor Vehicle Taxes-$1.3 million surplus
  • City Sales and Use Tax- at budget of $149.4 million
  • Utility Occupation Taxes - $2.8 million under (This is the telephone tax.  Revenue decline is due to decline in land lines)
  • Restaurant Tax - $1.6 million surplus

Health care savings continues to be significant, estimated at $5.5 million.  The 2016 budget includes $63.5 million in health care expenses for current and retired employees.

A budget surplus has been reported in every year of Mayor Stothert’s term.  “We should always strive to end the year with a 2-3% surplus,” said Finance Director Stephen Curtiss. “In the last four years, we have not had to make mid-year cuts due to unforeseen expenses or revenue deficits.  Those cuts often disrupt city services and affect taxpayers and employees.”

As required by the City Charter, an end-of-year surplus must be carried over to the 2018 budget or used for cash reserve.  Surplus funds cannot be spent in 2016 or 2017.

(August 24, 2016)

Mayor Jean Stothert will sign a resolution this week to amend and approve the 2017 budget. The Omaha City Council approved the Mayor’s recommended budget Tuesday, adding  $104,000 in new spending to support youth and job training programs. 

 "I'm very pleased.  With a total fund budget over $900 million, there are just three amendments, and I support these good programs that serve our community” said Mayor Stothert.  "It's a good, solid budget.  We're adding more money for police officers and public works and still lowering taxes," said Mayor Stothert.

The budget includes a two percent tax rate cut and increased funding for additional police officers and street resurfacing.

The 2017 General Fund budget already includes $10.7 million dollars for residential resurfacing and the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for 2017-22 includes $6.8 million for resurfacing substandard streets in Roadway Maintenance Districts (RMD) and Street Improvement Districts (SID).   The Council approved the CIP Tuesday. The Council did not approve the amendment to increase the street resurfacing budget by reducing the Mayor’s recommended property tax rate cut.   (see resurfacing budget history below)

The Council added $20,000 to support the PACE program.  Police Athletics for Community Engagement is a program started by the Latino Peace Officers Association in 2005.  Current and retired Omaha police officers volunteer to coach sports teams and steer young players away from gangs and crime. 

The ReConnect program will receive $40,000.  ReConnect received $18,500 from Mayor Stothert this year and the Mayor’s recommended budget included the same amount in 2017. The amendment passed by the Council adds $21,500 for the total of $40,000 next year.   The program provides job training and other services for youth and adults leaving prison.

An additional $62,880 was approved for a day camp in a south or south central Omaha park.  During the Mayor's first term, new day camps have  opened  in addition to the very successful Hummel Day Camp.  This year, 3,000 Omaha children attended Hummel, including 1,200 whose registration listed a south Omaha address.

When the annual waiting list for Hummel grew to more than 400  children in 2014, Parks and Recreation Director Brook Bench recommended expanding the day camp program.  With the Mayor’s support, three new camps opened  on a trial basis at Fontenelle Park,  Zorinsky Park and Benson Park.

The Fontenelle camp was discontinued after the first year due to low attendance.  Benson and Zorinsky have both expanded after successful first year pilots.  In 2016, the Parks Department also created the Outdoor Adventure camp, a two-week program that includes activities at a different city park or community center  daily.

As the 2017 budget was developed, planning for a south or south central day camp at Hanscom Park began.   Hanscom has many features to support a camp, including a city pool, fishing lake, pavilion, restrooms and the City greenhouse.    “Brook and his team  continue to create new opportunities for children and families, not just during the summer, throughout the year,” said Mayor Stothert. “We offer events at all of our community  centers, pools and parks  to provide accessible recreation activities  for everyone.” 

The Council did not approve the amendment to increase the street resurfacing budget by reducing the Mayor’s recommended property tax rate cut.  The 2017 General Fund budget already includes $10.7 million dollars for residential resurfacing and the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for 2017-22 includes $6.8 million for resurfacing substandard streets in Roadway Maintenance Districts (RMD) and Street Improvement Districts (SID).   The Council approved the CIP Tuesday.

"Most people tell me, 'Lower my taxes, keep me safe and fix my streets'.  With this budget, we are showing taxpayers we are spending their money well and controlling spending,” said Mayor Stothert.  “I always invite and appreciate input from council members as we develop the budget and I hope in the years ahead everyone will make their recommendations early so we can continue to fund worthwhile community programs.”  

The 2017 General Fund budget increase is less than 3%, totaling $369.6 million, compared to $358.9 million this year.

The 2017 recommended budget is available on the Finance Department’s website: http://finance.cityofomaha.org/images/stories/pdfs/2017_Recommended_Budget_FINAL_FINAL_Web_Version.pdf

The adopted budget will be added soon.

The original news release on the budget is available at this link:

http://mayors-office.cityofomaha.org/city-news/251-mayor-recommends-2017-property-tax-rate-cut

 

RESIDENTIAL RESURFACING HISTORY 2006-2017

2006:     $3,950,000

2007:     $4,300,000

2008:     $4,800,000

2009:     $5,800,000

2010:     $2,800,000

2011:     $3,914,945

2012:     $5,601,108

2013:     $6,610,884

2014:     $6,900,000

2015:     $7,300,000

2016:     $8,767,533

2017:     $10,767,533

 

 

SUMMER DAY CAMPS

BENSON

One-week camp tested in 2015

Expanded to 2 weeks in 2016

Free

ZORINSKY

Two week camp tested in 2015

Expanded to 5 weeks in 2016

$75 per week per camper

 

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE *new this year

Two week program started in 2016

Will continue in 2017

$75 per week per camper

Transportation included

 

HUMMEL

280 campers weekly for 9 weeks

$95 per week per camper

(August 23, 2016)

A property tax rate reduction, a record high number of police officers, and a significant increase in spending for street repairs; those are the highlights of Mayor Jean Stothert's 2017 budget. The City Council passed the budget Tuesday, adding slightly over $100,000 for programs that support youth and re-entry services.

"It's a good, solid budget.  We're adding more money for police officers and public works and still lowering taxes," said Mayor Jean Stothert. "Most people tell me, 'Lower my taxes, keep me safe and fix my streets'.  We are showing taxpayers we are spending their money well and controlling spending."

The Council added $20,000 to support the PACE program.  Police Athletics for Community Engagement is a program started by the Latino Peace Officers Association in 2005.  Current and retired Omaha police officers volunteer to coach sports teams and steer young players away from gangs and crime. 

The ReConnect program will receive $40,000.  ReConnect had previously received $18,500 from Mayor Stothert.  The program provides re-entry services for youth and adults.

An additional $62,880 was approved for a day camp in south or south central Omaha.  During the Mayor's first term, day camps have opened at Zorinsky and Benson parks, in addition to the very successful Hummel Day Camp.

Mayor Stothert supports all three amendments and will not veto the council actions. "I'm very pleased.  With a total fund budget over $900 million, there were just three amendments.  We have worked with council members to get their bipartisan support and I think this shows our process works."

The two percent proposed property tax rate cut is the Mayor’s second cut in three years. The City's total levy is just under 48 cents.  "Every penny counts," said Mayor Stothert. 

The 2017 General Fund budget increase is less than 3%, totaling $369.6 million, compared to $358.9 million this year.

Budget highlights include:

  • Hire additional police officers increasing the total number to 860, the highest number of officers in OPD history.  With this increase, Mayor Stothert and Police Chief Todd Schmaderer have exceeded their three-year staffing goals. The next three-year staffing plan and a fifth police precinct is now being discussed.
  • A 2017 firefighter recruit class
  • Add $2 million  to the street resurfacing fund for a total of $10.8 million.  The appropriation for residential brick street repair will also increase from $400,000 to $500,000.
  • Add 16 employees in the Public Works Street Maintenance Division for snow removal, pothole repair and street construction, repair and maintenance.
  • Increase demolition budget by $100,000 for a total now over $1 million.  Hire an additional housing inspector.
  • Increase Omaha Public Library Budget 5%. All library branches will remain open, no service or program cuts. The increase includes technology upgrades and an RFID system. Radio frequency ID tags on every item available  for  checkout  will improve customer service, inventory and maintenance of the library collections.
  • Expand the use of Acella software in the Planning Department, which has already improved the process and reduced wait times for permit applications and plan reviews.
  • Add an Acella Analyst to ensure we are taking full advantage of the customer-service tools Acella offers.
  • Funding for tree-trimming crew and equipment for Emerald Ash Borer Response Plan.
  • Add one-million dollars annually for the next four years to the Capital Improvement Plan to treat,  remove  and replace trees on public property.

Projected revenues in 2017 include:

  • Property Tax:       $149.7 million
  • Sales Tax             $155.9 million
  • Restaurant Ta x    $31.1 million
  • Wheel Tax            $11.7

The restaurant tax is projected to increase 6% next year.

“As we prepared this budget, I again considered a reduction in the restaurant tax. I made the decision  to pursue another property tax rate cut instead,” said Mayor Stothert.  “Everyone who owns property in Omaha pays property tax and will benefit from another tax rate cut.  It is broad-based  and fair. Reducing the restaurant tax remains a goal of my administration."