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Mayor vetoes Omaha council amendments to fund mental-health programs, add health director

Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert
Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 1:14 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Mayor Jean Stothert officially quashed the Omaha City Council amendments put forth this week that would have provided funds for workforce services and mental-health programs, and installed a part-time health director for the city.

Following Tuesday’s council meeting, the mayor said she had planned to veto the use of the city’s cash reserves during a pandemic. She made it official on Friday.

After rejecting Councilman Chris Jerram’s proposal to pull $2 million from the Omaha Police budget to fund community programs, the City Council instead passed an amendment providing for those programs by pulling from the city’s “rainy day” funds.

City Council also requested that the city hire its own health director, as a part-time position, highlighting recent political snags in issuing a mask mandate for the city of Omaha. Stothert also vetoed that amendment Friday.

“We are experiencing the first pandemic in 100 years. A rare pandemic does not necessitate a new position,” Stothert said in a letter sent to the council accompanying her veto.

She cited city code that allows the Douglas County Health Director to act as the City Health Director during a public health emergency.

“I have confidence in Dr. Pour’s expertise. Hiring a health director is an unnecessary and redundant expense,” she said in the letter.

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