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Mayor Stothert vetoes amendments to city's 2021 budget

Mayor Stothert
Posted at 1:31 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 14:33:59-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert vetoed two budget amendments which were passed on Tuesday by the Omaha City Council. The amendments would divert funds from the city's cash reserves to support mental health workforce training and provide a salary for a part-time City of Omaha Health Director in the event of a pandemic.

Stothert said, in a release, that the city should be focusing on adding money to the reserve as opposed to taking away from it as "no one can anticipate what may happen in 2021, just as no one could have anticipated what has occurred this year."

Stothert also criticized the $1.8 million workforce amendment, saying it did not specify recipients for $1.5 million worth of it and that it did not say how the funds would be spent.

"The Omaha taxpayers should know exactly how their tax dollars are being distributed up front, not 'to be determined,'" she said. "We need a specific, comprehensive, results-driven strategy to improve and/or expand mental health services in Omaha, and then identify funding sources. Not the other way around."

The other amendment, which would provide $25,000 for a part-time City of Omaha Health Director, was also vetoed by the mayor. She called it unnecessary.

"A rare pandemic does not necessitate a new position," she said. "Dr. Adi Pour has provided outstanding guidance since March when the first impacts of COVID-19 warranted action to protect the public health of Omaha and Douglas County. I have confidence in Dr. Pour's expertise. Hiring a health director is an unnecessary and redundant expense."

The City Council does have the option to override the vetoes. Five votes are needed to do so.