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City of Lincoln
Mayor's Office

2008 Media Releases

July 1, 2008
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831


Keeping libraries, recreation centers and pools open can help keep the community safe – the top outcome chosen by residents during the PRIORITY LINCOLN budget input process. That was one example cited by Mayor Chris Beutler today as he explained how budget decisions have an impact on the goals City government wants to accomplish.

“City government is divided into departments and divisions, but they do not operate independently,” said Beutler. “Nearly every decision has an impact not just on that department, but on one or more departments. Budget cuts in one area may harm vital goals in another. No one cut can be considered in isolation.”

Beutler said maintaining safety and security goes beyond police and fire protection and 911 services. The Police Department and Lincoln Fire and Rescue (LFR) rely on the Health Department’s support when they have hazardous materials incidents or bust a meth operation. LFR relies on Public Works and Utilities to make sure the water flow is adequate to fight fires. Police Chief Casady said research shows that young people are most vulnerable to risky behavior between 3 and 6 p.m., highlighting the importance of after-school activities. (A list of other examples follows this release.)

“We are about to make a City-wide decision on what we spend and why,” Beutler said. “It is up to you to decide if the impact on youth crime is worth funding our neighborhood swimming pools and libraries. It is up to you to decide whether building roads is critical enough to the community that we need the attorneys in our Law Department to keep the process flowing. It is up to you to decide whether re-vitalizing older neighborhoods to end crime is a reason to maintain funding for the Urban Development Department.”

The Mayor said that at this point, City job cuts will total about 110 over two years. “Budget cuts have consequences,” he said. “If we are to aspire to compete with cities across the nation, we must balance frugality with quality of life, and practicality with high expectations.”

Mayor Chris Beutler explaining how budget decisions
have impact across City department and division lines.

  • Shading from trees can extend the life of street pavement. The planting and maintenance of street trees can reduce street rehabilitation costs.
  • Properly maintained public parks and open spaces can enhance the value of surrounding property, building the tax base. Inadequately maintained parks can lower property values and can become locations for criminal activity.
  • Recreational amenities such as trails and play fields encourage active lifestyles, reducing public health costs.
  • The Public Works and Utilities Department relies on the City Attorney’s Office to review contracts for purchasing the rights of way needed for streets, water mains and other public improvements. About 150 Executive Orders on construction projects need legal review every year, and City attorneys also draft agreements for private development and re-development projects. Without adequate legal resources, these economic development projects are slowed.
  • The City Attorney’s Office is required to review and process about 250 tort claims filed against the City every year. But with fewer attorneys in recent years, the resolution time has increased from two weeks to two months, increasing public frustration and the potential for unnecessary litigation.
  • Important updates to the City gas and mechanical code and the electrical code also have been delayed due to a shortage of legal resources.
  • With inadequate resources for the Planning Department, fire stations, parks, streets and other costly infrastructure could be built where they are not needed. On the other hand, new infrastructure could be inadequate for the amount of growth, leading to costly road expansions or the laying of parallel water lines.
  • Without the long-range plans developed by the Planning Department, the City would not remain eligible to receive more than $10 million per year in federal grant funds for street improvements and to help operate StarTran.
  • Summer reading programs keep students ready for school. Poor reading skills are a factor in unemployment, which impacts the local economy, social services and the crime rate.

Mayor's Office    Media Releases