Stothert Presents 2014 Budget To City Council

By: WOWT Email
By: WOWT Email
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Mayor Jean Stothert submitted her recommended Omaha city budget for 2014 Tuesday. The budget shows more than $800 million in revenue and nearly $793 million in appropriations of all funds through 2014. An estimated $341 million would come from the general fund.

The general fund adjustments from 2013 to 2014 show a nearly $19 million total increase. This equates to 3.3%.

City Departments taking notable general fund cuts include the Mayor's Office (-$129,622 or -11.08%), Convention and Tourism (-100,000 or -20%), and Public Works (-422,742 or -2.20%). When looking at all funds, public works suffers a nearly $23 million decrease.

City departments taking notable increases include Police ($2,875,692 or 2.37%), Fire ($8,223,550 or 9.98 percent), and Library ($1,173,636 or 12.63%).

Mayor Stothert said an increase in the Police budget would help fund new radio systems. She also explained it would delay a recruitment class of officers by several months.

The Fire Department's proposed budget is at the center of extreme controversy. After the proposal, the Omaha Fire Union filed suit against the city because the proposed budget is in violation of their collective bargaining agreement and hurts public safety.

The department said it needed nearly $97 million, but Stothert has only approved for $90.6 million. She said she is not going any higher than that number.

In order to get the fire department within her budgeting limits, she has proposed 3 options. Each includes layoffs and equipment removal. Stothert told Channel 6 the budget is based off of option 2, which includes:

Option Two

16 Layoffs
2 Rigs removed (1 Truck or Engine removed, 1 Medic Unit removed)
8 Demotions
Reduce Detached Duty to 4
Reduce Callback by half
Remove 3 Assistant Fire Chief
Remove 1 Assistant Fire Marshal

"It's not preferable to me to take anything out of service...If you look at it day to day at the Fire Department i think you'll find that almost any day not every fire truck is in service," Stothert said.

Expected revenue increases are only about 3.3%. One of the most significant changes is found in the Restaurant Tax. The 2014 Budget shows nearly $28 million as the expected revenue from Restaurant tax. In 2013 it was about $26 million -- an estimated 8% increase.

Property taxes are planned to slightly decrease from last year. Sales tax will slightly increase. There is no projected growth for sales tax or property tax. Mayor Stothert says this has made budgeting "extremely difficult."

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