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2009 Media Releases


Date:
January 14, 2009
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831


IMPACT FEE COMMITTEE ISSUES RECOMMENDATIONS

Mayor Chris Beutler today said the City needs to act now to keep arterial street construction from reaching "dangerously low levels" in the near future. He made the comments at a news conference to release the phase one report from a committee the Mayor appointed last year to review the City's impact fee system and recommend possible changes or alternatives. The Mayor said the committee expanded its work to include the broader issue of infrastructure financing.

"We need to come together as a community to discuss and build consensus around funding solutions that work for this community," Beutler said. "In the coming year, my administration will dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to this effort, and I look forward the community-wide conversation that will take place."

Nick Cusick, who serves on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, chaired the committee. Other members are Steve Stueck, a member of the board of the REALTORS Association of Lincoln; Fred Hoke, who was with the Lincoln Home Builders Association during the committee's deliberations; and Jim Christo, a home builder and a member of the Lincoln Independent Business Association.

The committee recommended that the City maintain the current policy of annual pre-approved inflationary increases to all impact fees. If the increases are overridden due to unfavorable economic conditions, the committee said the City should consider capturing the lost revenues in future years as conditions improve. The City Council has voted to override these increases the last two years, so impact fees are currently frozen at the 2007 levels.

"I reluctantly agreed not to veto the freeze for 2009 and noted that City needs to recoup the lost revenues when the economy rebounds, so I am pleased that the committee is also asking the City to consider this approach," Beutler said.

Another committee recommendation is that the City attempt a new General Obligation Bond for road infrastructure, when the economic climate allows. "As our infrastructure needs continue to grow and revenues continue to lag, a voter-approved bond may be necessary in the future when the economy improves," Beutler said. "We have a lot of work to do before that point, and that's why I'm pleased to see the Committee's next recommendation - that we report to the public at least once a year on the City's unfunded infrastructures needs. These recommendations go to the heart of transparency in government."

Other recommendations:

  • Increase the property tax levy if needed to fund properly all City needs, including an appropriate contribution to street infrastructure funding.
  • Reduce the number of fee districts from seven to four to allow impact fee dollars to accumulate faster and give the City greater flexibility.
  • Continue to pursue the Urban Growth District concept in the State Legislature. Senator Amanda McGill has re-introduced this bill.
  • Continue to use pre-approved increases in the wheel tax. Wheel taxes were increased in 2004 and 2007, and a third increase is scheduled for 2010. A five-dollar increase generates about $1 million annually.

In the next phase of its review the committee will look more in depth at how other communities structure their impact fees. Those recommendations are expected this summer.

The complete phase one report is on the City Web site at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: impact fee task force).


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