OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV — The mayor of Omaha Jean Stothert says that the city’s roads have been under-funded for 50 years and that the city needs to find another source to pay to repair them.
"It just will not keep pace with the deterioration of our roads, we'll fall farther and farther and farther behind,” says Stothert.
Right now, the city of Omaha pays $41 million a year on road repair, but still the streets are falling behind. Mayor Stothert says experts recommend upping the road maintenance budget to $75 million annually. So where does the city come up with the $34 million difference?
Mayor Stothert laid out a variety of options with the main one being a bond issue of $200 million over five years. Raising property taxes, allowing the city to repair every street in a 20 year span.
"That would close the gap. A five year 200 million dollar bond issue,” says Stothert.
She also mentioned increasing the wheel tax and sales tax but doesn't like those options as much.
"The bond issue is the one I'd lean more towards because you decide, you vote on it, if you vote it down, we continue with what we're doing now,” says Stothert.
Multiple people in attendance asked the mayor to tax them if that means roads will improve.
"Do everything you can, bonds, gas tax, wheel tax, I'll spend two bucks a week to improve our roads,” says Bob Donahoe, resident of Omaha.
Others say they want to see investments in other means of transportation, like adding bike lanes and improving the bus system, but Stothert says the city needs to invest in the streets first.
"It's not this or that, it's both of it, it's all of it, and this has to come first while we continue to work on it. So it's fundamental to everything else,” says Stothert.