$2 million leftover from last quarter-cent sales tax

LINCOLN, Neb. The last quarter-cent sales tax increase expired in October and since then there has only been one proposal of what to do with the extra money. With no timeline for when the funds have to be used there haven't been any decisions made in nearly six months.

In April of 2015 voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax increase to fund public safety projects.

"It funded new emergency radio system, three fire stations and a police, fire station that was imposed in October of that year," said Rick Hoppe, the mayor's Chief of Staff. "It just recently ran out, in fact about the October 1st of 2018."

The city raised $38 million for the project but only needed $36 million and there is no way to return that extra money to taxpayers.

"It totally depends on city council action at this point," said Hoppe. "There is a resolution sitting on the council agenda now that would move this money into fire apparatus. City council seems to still be debating this issue and taking a look at what they think makes the most sense for Lincoln."

City council members must now decide how to spend that money within the parameters set by the ballot language. Which means the money can only be used on projects that pertain to public safety. Some think they should use it to buy a new vehicle for the fire department, others think they should wait for more pressing needs.

"By law the city can only spend the funds as directed in the ballot language by voters," said Hoppe. "In the ballot language there was some verbiage about equipping stations which would allow us to buy a fire apparatus."

City council member Carl Eskridge says they are split on what to do with the money at this time and that it will most likely remain untouched until a new city council is elected in May.

"To make decisions that could be seen as controversial at a time when an election is close I would guess that we probably wont do anything before the elections," said Eskridge.

The city also says the wording of the ballot language prevents the money from being used in any other department or way. The only way to change it would be to put it back on the ballot for people to decide where it should go. Something both the Mayors Office and Eskridge say is very unlikely.