OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Tuesday, the Omaha City Council approved changes to the 2022 budget. On Thursday, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert vetoed four budget amendments submitted by the council. They concern funding the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, a protected bike lane on Harney Street, North Saddle Creek business improvements and contracting a website consultant.
In relation to the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), which is being budgeted for 2022-2027, Stothert’s office said three of the council's amendments don’t meet the description of a capital investment and have been prematurely budgeted.
The CIP amendments concern funds which would be used for the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, a permanently protected bike lane on Harney Street from Turner Boulevard to 10th Street and improvements to the North Saddle Creek Business District.
"The Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan has not been developed yet," wrote Mayor Stothert. "Until this plan is completed, evaluated, and approved, we cannot know if the recommendations will include capital improvements, therefore it should not be added to the CIP. The master plan process will determine the necessary resources for implementation. Until that time, the amendment is premature."
Before putting money into a permanently protected bike lane, Stothert’s office said the city should take data gathered over a 14-month period from the Market to Midtown Bikeway pilot which began in late July. Based on the data, she believes the city can better formulate permanent bicycle infrastructure.
In the letter to City Council members, she wrote, "Modifying the existing traffic lanes on Harney Street is not a capital improvement, it is an operating expense. I look forward to the results of the pilot and making future decisions based on the pilot."
Stohert also chose to veto an amendment that would fund North Saddle Creek Business District improvements and said it would take funding from other projects which are already in progress.
The mayor’s final veto concerned the city’s General Budget Fund and the hiring of a consultant to develop a website for sharing information with residents in districts. Stothert said resources to fulfill such a request are unnecessary as channels already exist for council members to communicate with people in their council districts.
"Payment to an outside consultant is not appropriate or needed. As elected leaders, we all have existing web pages at cityofomaha.org, which should be used for communication with our constituents," said Mayor Stothert.
Omaha City Council will meet next Tuesday on Aug. 24 to discuss the vetoes.
You can read Stothert’s full letter to the council below: