City councilman looking to renegotiate emergency services contract

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LINCOLN, Nebr. (KOLN) With the Lincoln growing, and the University of Nebraska growing, the need for emergency services on campus is also increasing.

On average, Lincoln Fire and Rescue crews respond to a call on Lincoln's two campuses about once a day. A recent study by Lincoln Fire and Rescue shows that the resources committed to campus-related calls costs the city more than $400,000 per year.

For many years, the University of Nebraska has paid the city $16,000 per year to the city of Lincoln to provide fire and rescue services on campus. The LFR study showed that the service costs the city 25 times that amount.

"The University of Nebraska and the City of Lincoln have a 150-year relationship, and it's a good relationship," says City Councilman Roy Christensen. "But like all relationships, from time to time, it's good to review things to make sure they are in balance."

According to the LFR study, the city responded to 378 emergency calls in 2018. That's up from the 358 incidents in 2017. In both years, fire and rescue units spent more than 400 hours responding to a medical, fire, hazardous materials, or a car crash situation on the Lincoln campus.

"It costs the citizens of Lincoln about $400,000 per year to provide these services to UNL, and if UNL isn't paying for them, all the taxpayers of Lincoln are," Christensen says of the tax-exempt University.

The purpose for Christensen's resolution -- which will be considered by the City Council next Monday -- is not to create animosity, but rather, to make sure the partnership continues to be beneficial for all.

"It's an invitation to sit down and say let's talk and see where we are and where we ought to be," Christensen said.