Council to Weigh Street Repairs

Omaha’s City Council goes back to work Tuesday to weigh metro street repair against the money available to do the work and the mayor's proposed tax cut.

Aside from the debate over what would be the first property tax cut in more than a decade, much of the talk at city hall this year revolves around roads - which streets need fixing, which ones need patches, which ones can wait and what will it cost?

The most basic question: are we doing enough?

Councilman Ben Gray believes some projects are long overdue and said, "I don't think it sends the right message for people who have been waiting for decades for streets to be repaired."

Gray said we need to do more and that's why the mayor's property tax cut is a case of bad timing.

But the mayor has told WOWT 6 News repeatedly over the past two weeks that she can't just focus on one item like roads in a budget - that she has to strike a balance of good roads and infrastructure and city services with what we can afford.

Mayor Stothert said, "We can't continue to grow our budget every year and pay for it in tax increases. That's not what the community wants. They expect me to run an efficient government and that's what we're doing."

There are major projects on the horizon -- ones that are easy to recognize. A bridge at 26th and Q needs attention. It’s on schedule for replacement in 2015. The city's own paperwork states this has "reached the end of its useful life."

There's a lot more gray area in determining when and where city streets reach the same point.

Things could change by the time the council meets Tuesday afternoon but it doesn't appear there are enough votes to strike down the mayor's property tax cut.

There are plenty of alternatives in there that will be debated, mostly how to spend some of the city's savings in different ways.

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