Omaha mayor submits city’s 2023 budget plan, calling police and fire departments a ‘top priority’

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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Mayor Jean Stothert has sent the city council its $474 million budget plan for the General Fund — a 3.9% increase from 2022 — for the year ahead on Tuesday.

Mayor’s plan increases health coverage by 5.5% for city employees; the $75.2 million breaks down into $17,511 per city employee and $23,104 for firefighters.

It also puts the city’s cash reserves at $54.3 million.

“We have made it a priority to increase our savings accounts,” Stothert said in a press release Tuesday. “The reserves are our rainy day fund, and I monitor the economic forecast, as I know you do too. Like your own family budgets, we’ll adjust if inflation impacts city spending. »

There is a lot of information to assimilate in the budget. Overall, the city’s budget in 2023 would increase by 3.9%.

POLICE & FIREFIGHTERS

Addressing council in the city’s legislative chambers on Tuesday afternoon, the mayor said that in addition to key city projects, her budget proposal also emphasizes funding for police and emergency services. fire, calling it “our top priority”.

Stothert’s plan includes a 4.6% budget increase for the OPD, to $178.4 million, while maintaining the same number of sworn officers: 906. In addition to absorbing the cost of the co-sponsoring as he moves away from private funding, he also allows the department to purchase equipment needed to communicate with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and 911 emergency dispatchers.

The proposed budget also includes a 3.9% increase, to $120.7 million, for the Omaha Fire Department, increasing the number of sworn firefighters to 681 and reinstating the No. 2 engine downtown. . The budget also covers a new medical unit and staff to serve northeast Omaha while allowing for the purchase of land to build a new fire hall for the northwest part of the city.

“As our city grows, calls to emergency services increase,” she said. “We must have trained personnel and safe, up-to-date devices to provide the best possible emergency response.”

OTHER MUNICIPAL SERVICES: Additionally, Stothert’s budget plan includes a 2.7% increase in spending on solid waste collection, bringing it to $35.7 million. The mayor is also proposing $18 million for street resurfacing, not including projects covered by the Street Preservation Bond fund.

His budget also increases salaries for seasonal employees of the city’s parks department, especially lifeguards; expand the city Way to Work partnership with the Salvation Armyand adds a homeless services coordinator to city staff.

The mayor also noted the city’s fuel contract price of $2.81 per gallon and $2.77 per gallon for diesel.

REVENUE FORECASTS

Stothert’s budget calls for a 6.25% increase in property tax revenue to $210 million. She highlighted Tuesday that the city’s property tax was unchanged, noting that Omahaould “once again…will not be implementing the voter-approved increase in 2020 to fund the streets preservation program.”

“We are in the third year of this program and can continue without increasing drawdown with good cash management and existing bond capacity,” she said.

The mayor’s budget plan increases projected revenue for the city’s restaurant tax by 10.97%, to $39.8 million.

“Restaurant tax revenue is an indication of recovery from the pandemic,” Steve Curtis, the city’s chief financial officer, said in Tuesday’s news release. “Consumers are spending money in restaurants, which is good for business and good for the local economy.”

The city also expects sales tax revenue to increase by 7.27% to $205.1 million.

The revenue plan also includes an $8 million 2020 budget carry forward.

CITY PROJECTS

The mayor also made sure to mention the significant increase in the city’s library budget to implement plans for a “world-class library system,” culminating in a new central library on 72nd and Dodge.

Stothert’s budget plan also includes a 10% increase in the library’s budget to $19.3 million. In addition to covering rental payments for the 14th and Jones branch and paying for the temporary administrative location at 84th and Frederick streets, the proposed amount also adds positions and increases salaries for part-time library staff. It will also provide materials for the new downtown branch.

As part of his presentation to City Council on Tuesday, Stothert also submitted a draft of its five-year, $2.7 billion capital improvement programwith long-term plans for transportation, public safety, public facilities, parks and environmental improvements.

Note: $10 million for the completion of riverside parks, $20 million for the central library and $306 million for the city’s streetcar plan.

“We are making commitments to Omaha’s future with these community assets,” she said in a press release sent after her presentation to the board. “With our philanthropic and business partners, our investments are creating modern, accessible amenities that will improve our city. »

Have your say

The public hearing on the city’s budget will be held at 6:30 p.m. on August 16 in the city’s legislative chambers. The city council must vote on the budget on September 13.

Read the mayor’s draft budget

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