Proposed change to transportation budget

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LINCOLN, Neb. -- The city needs $33 million to close the gap for transportation needs every year in Lincoln. That breaks down to $21 million to preserve and maintain the streets and $7 million for operations like signal upgrades and to maximize traffic flow.

"Our transportation system is vital to the growth of our city," Bruce Bohrer with the Chamber of Commerce said.

The Lincoln Citizens' Transportation Coalition spent five months studying the best options for the city to meet Lincoln's need.

Bohrer said, "The biggest question as it usually is relates to funding. The coalition's recommendations provide reasonable options and we need to consider them as a community."

That boils down to a three pronged approach.

First, it would save the city money through regular maintenance, offer more flexibility in contracts and improve the impact fee system for new construction and infrastructure. Second, they would plan to adopt the 24 best practices to streamline the business process and create a citizen advisory panel. Finally, they would add $20-$28 million to the city's budget from local option sales tax instead of raising property or wheel taxes.

Brad Stevens, Regional Director for Americans for Prosperity, said, "To have only one option and to have one option that raises taxes $28 million...I think is irresponsible. I don't think it's the right way to go, and I just wish that they would reevaluate."

The coalition's recommendation included research from 14 peer cities like Charlotte and Wichita. According to the City of Lincoln, the city pays $2,400 per lane-mile for maintenance. That's compared to $10,000 in other similar sized communities across the country. Right now, the city's budget can't keep up with Lincoln's growing need.

Mayor Beutler said, "Building infrastructure like our street network is critical part of how we continue to make Lincoln a world-class city."

For more information on the recommendations, click the link above.