Omaha mayor defends 2020 budget, says tougher rental regulations will be successful

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert is defending her budget after people expressed disappointment at Tuesday night’s public hearing over her decision to hire one new housing inspector in 2020.

"One of the testifiers said last night said that this was designed for failure and I'll tell you right now it's not. It's designed for success,” Mayor Stothert told reporters late Wednesday afternoon.

The Mayor is referring to the new tougher rental housing regulations that start going into effect next year; targeting landlords with current and outstanding code violations.

At the public hearing on the Mayor’s budget people said they don’t think one additional inspector next year will cut it. The Mayor disagrees and is trusting her planning director.

"We feel this is the number of inspectors we need and it's not just a number we picked out to cut back on the budget,” said Mayor Stothert. “This is the number we will need in 2020 for this program."

The city plans to add two additional inspectors in 2021 and another two inspectors in 2022; that’s the year the ordinance goes into full effect and will require mandatory inspections of all rental properties every 10 years.

Councilman Pete Festersen is among the council members who also think there should be more than one inspector added to the city’s lineup in 2020.

"It's important to show that we are moving forward with that ordinance and that we are going to follow through and provide the necessary resources to make sure it's effective,” said Councilman Festersen.

The councilman believes hiring more inspectors now makes sense.
"Regardless of the new ordinance we did appropriate for housing inspectors to the tune of about 12 several years ago and just never quite got to that level,” said Councilman Festersen. “So I think with our growth over time it's justified in that respect too."

The Mayor says the city is well on its way to having the landlord registry portion of the rental housing ordinance up and running in 2020. She also notes they are working to roll out the tenant-education components of the ordinance.