Lincoln City Council Chair Reacts to Proposed LPD Officer Cuts

Lincoln City Council Chair Adam Hornung told 10/11 it's a city's priority to protect and serve, that's why he wants to make sure Mayor Chris Beutler doesn't get his way and cut police officers.

For the first time in a few years, the budget isn't all about cuts. In fact, the city is going back to a two-year budget.

Adam Hornung said, "We're not faced with such a gigantic shortfall, it's also great there's not discussion of a tax increase."

Mayor Chris Beutler added, "We have fixed the structural imbalance and put our fiscal house in order."

A $153-million proposed budget that can be a little bit about priority instead of necessity.

Hornung told 10/11, "The question is can you continue to provide the same amount of police and still have some staff at the mayor's office, he has to have some staff to undertake his job as well, but clearly the greatest priority needs to be on fire, on police, on infrastructure."

Mayor Beutler said he knows fire and police are the communities priority, that's why 50% of the budget is dedicated to police, fire and 911 emergency response, but for the second year in a row results from the "Taking Charge" survey show people don't want officers to respond to non-injury accidents.

Beutler said Friday, "I want to make sure police will still respond to accidents to make sure no laws have been broke, that people are safe, people are insured."

Going through the mayor's proposed budget 10/11 News noticed, some people in the mayor's office would get raises over the next two years.

Hornung said he'll examine expenses more closely over the next few days. His major sticking point, though, cutting two police officers.

Friday Beutler said, "We've reached a place where there are fewer places to cut in a rational way making it far more difficult to keep cuts away from vital public safety services."

Beutler said those other departments including Parks and Recreation and Aging Partners have shouldered cuts over the last few years because people in Lincoln expressed public safety as a top priority.

And since it's such a high priority, Hornung said cutting two officers would have a drastic affect on the city.

"It's important we have more police officers, not less and this would be a step in the wrong direction. We're also nationally one of the smallest police forces in the country, so I think the last thing we need to be doing is cutting."

The mayor defended the cuts because by eliminating reports for non-injury accidents it would reduce the workload.

Hornung added, "I think that's fine, that gets us back to the core function of what a police department is supposed to be doing, it allows our police officers to be responding to the problems that are more important."

Hornung said he'll look at how to keep the two officers, just like he did in 2011 when it came to saving the Air Park Fire station.

On Monday afternoon Mayor Beutler will officially present this budget to the city council inside the chambers.

Of course we'll bring you that coverage Monday on 10/11 News.

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