City Council Undecided On Landfill Fee As Budget Talks Continue

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LINCOLN, Neb.-- On Monday, Aug. 11, many in the Lincoln community turned out to the city's public hearing on the budget to let council members know that they were concerned about a possible increase in landfill fees.

The City Council held another hearing to discuss amendments to the budget and the landfill fee was a major topic of discussion.

Councilman Trent Fellers was first to bring his concerns to the table saying he needed to research the fee's implications before casting his vote.

Fellers said, "Since we are less than 48 hours removed from the public hearing, I wasn't comfortable enough to bring an amendment to the city at this point and I need to talk to city staff to get more info."

Councilman Carl Eskridge says he feels he has all the information he needs, but he understands these concerns.

"There are more council members that feel like they need more information before they feel they're ready to make that decision," said Eskridge.

Council members want more time in this process.

They've asked the City's Public Works Director Miki Esposito to meet with members outside of the hearing to go through what the landfill fee would pay for.

So far, there's been confusion about what's included.

"It looked like in materials that were presented to us, there was a study group involved in all this and they made a recommendation that there be education and that level of education be somewhere between $300,000 and $900,000 for a year and that's a huge amount of money and they clarified today that no...this budget doesn't do that," said Carl Eskridge.

But Eskridge believes the .30 cent monthly increase on homeowners could help the city long-term.

Carl Eskridge said, "The landfill's expected to last until about the 2030, but if we can extend the life of that landfill...five, 10, 20 years, that's a tremendous asset to the community."

The council also discussed how to meet long-term pension obligations to police officers and firefighters.

Councilman John Camp introduced an amendment that would put any extra money left over from taxes in this budget towards that pension fund.

Council members voted against that amendment 3 to 4.

Counil member Eskridge explained that for him, he sees pensions as a second priority.

If the Lincoln Police Department does not get the federal grant to add police officers to the force to combat gang activity, any money left over from taxes would need to go towards adding to LPD's force.

The council will hold another hearing on Aug. 25.