Council Comedy

January 11, 2005 at 4:33pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

The collective genius of the Lincoln City Council blows my mind.

Lincoln has been planning more and more “marquee” projects for at least a decade. These include:

  • South Beltway
  • East Beltway
  • Widening East ‘O’ Street to 6 lanes
  • Antelope Valley Project
  • Downtown Master Plan
  • Haymarket redevelopment
  • State Fair Park renovations
  • West Airport Subarea Plan
  • Stevens Creek infrastructure development
  • 48th & ‘O’ Street revitalization

Yesterday it finally dawned on the council:
How the hell are we going to pay for all this stuff?

Question: Which is more worrisome, that the Council doesn’t have the slightest clue how to address this problem, or that they just now realized the problem even exists?!

Councilwoman Patte Newman says the cost of projects in the pipeline is $43 million. She is either lying or she’s bad at math. The Antelope Valley Project alone is projected to cost $240 million (plus 3 times that amount—an additional $750 million—in private funding). Add in all the other projects, stir, and we’re talking a sum closer to at least $430 million—ten times Newman’s figure. And we can’t even figure out how to cover the projected $8.7 million budget gap for the coming fiscal year.

The Journal Star notes that covering the budget gap plus an additional $3.7 million in proposed new spending will require a property tax hike of 25%. Let’s say we want to complete all our $430 million worth of projects over the next 25 years. (That’s not asking too much, is it?) That’s $17.2 million per year… ::number crunching:: If I’m doing my math correctly, our total property tax hike next year would have to be at least 55% to cover the budget gap, the new spendin

g, and all the projects. That’s an increase of over $100 per month on the average property tax bill. Try to get that one past the taxpayers. And that doesn’t include the (well) more than $1 billion worth of new capital investments private companies will need to make in order to make all these projects a success. And that doesn’t include all the new money Lincoln’s residents will have to come up with to build all the new houses and support all the new businesses in order to keep all these projects afloat. Where is all that new money coming from?

Further evidence of the Council’s collective density also appears in this morning’s Journal Star in the form of an article titled “Council delays action on 48th and O.” (Aside: Is it just me, or is the Council always “delaying action” on important matters? Do these people ever make hard decisions?) The gist: Considering the City’s financial woes, maybe it’s not such a great idea to waste a few $million on the “blighted” (Ha!) 48th & ‘O’ Street area. The big clue:

(T)he largest property owner in the area, Julius Misle, opposes the city interference. His attorney, Mark Hunzeker, said Misle has had numerous queries from restaurants, banks and retailers interested in the area, but the blight designation and uncertainty about access to property have derailed plans and made it difficult to develop the area.

So developers are trying to take care of the problem on their own but government interference is holding them back? What a shock!

::sigh:: This is giving me a headache.

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