City of Lincoln
2007 Media Releases
Mayor Chris Beutler said today the 2007-2008 City budget that he will submit to the City Council Monday, July 9 fulfills his pledge to hold the City’s property tax rate steady except for the voter-approved stormwater bond issues.
“I am pleased that we were able to close the $9 million projected budget gap while maintaining the City’s sound financial position, preserving public safety and other essential services and moving the Antelope Valley Project forward,” said Mayor Beutler. “But this was a very difficult budget to develop, and cuts had to be made. We have minimized the impact of those cuts by prioritizing the most important services and those that affect the most people. Unfortunately, the public will see the impact of these cuts in some areas.”
As the result of department cuts and job reorganization, the City property tax rate would drop slightly from $.28337 this fiscal year to $.28313 in 2007-08. That lowers the City property tax bill for an average home (valued at $147,750) by 36 cents. The stormwater bonds approved by voters earlier this year will add $6.63 to the average homeowner’s property tax bill, for a net increase of $6.27. The City receives 14.2 percent of every property tax dollar paid, so the total property tax levy is determined by other taxing entities such as the Lincoln Public Schools and ESUs (64.5 percent) and Lancaster County (13.2 percent).
While the national inflation rate is 2.89 percent, the Mayor’s proposed $131.7 million tax-funded budget is only 1.34 percent higher than the budget for the current fiscal year. The City has grown by three square miles and 2,197 people, but the budget cuts total staff by about 70 positions (tax and non-tax funds).
"Once again, we are asking City employees to provide services for a growing community with less resources," said Mayor Beutler. "Since the 1990-91 fiscal year, Lincoln has grown by 39 square miles, and the population has grown about 26 percent. Yet the number of non-public-safety City employees has stayed the same."
Mayor Beutler ordered department directors to prepare reorganization plans to take advantage of positions vacated by the hiring freeze and the retirement incentive program. Department actions produced about $1.8 million in savings and created new efficiencies in service. In addition, departments were asked to submit budgets at 94 percent of this year’s levels and to look for other funding sources where possible. Some user fees were increased.
In preparing the budget, Beutler said he also looked for ways to solve the City’s budget problems for the long term. Sales tax revenue, which funds 42 percent of the budget, has not increased, while City expenses, such as health insurance and fuel expenses, continue to climb. Beutler has asked the Nebraska Department of Revenue to study the reasons for the lagging sales tax revenues. He also said he tried to minimize the use of one-time funding sources.
Mayor Beutler will present his budget message to the City Council at 10 a.m. Monday, July 9 in the City Council Chambers. The presentation will be carried live on 5 CITY-TV, the government access cable channel.