Omaha City Council approves changes to 2022 budget

Posted at 10:10 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-18 01:41:25-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - Two weeks after hearing from the public, the Omaha City Council is deciding where they think tax dollars could best address community concerns.

Though it is not coming out of the police budget as many asked, $90,000 from the general fund is going to Community Alliance's family education services, which teaches families how to intervene during a mental crisis.

"It would work well with our behavioral health units within the police department, but hopefully address those situations before it would ever escalate to that point,” said City Council President Pete Festersen.

Other amendments approved are $15,000 to replant trees, $40,000 to help entrepreneurs, $15,000 to hire a website consultant that will help councilmembers create their own websites to get information to their constituents, and $40,000 to the Nebraska Workforce Development and Education program to help people learn trades.

With all those approvals, no money was left to approve a late edition from councilmember Aimee Melton to assist the newly formed Tenant Assistance Program.

"This is something that I really think we need to do,” Melton said. “There are people who are falling through the cracks."

Melton says she'll explore other options for funding.

Along with the budget, the council also approved changes to the Capital Improvement Program, approving over $1 million to a new bicycle and pedestrian master plan, and $500,000 to make the Market-to-Midtown Bikeway a permanent fixture.

All these changes will be presented to Mayor Jean Stothert for final approval. Anything vetoed can be brought back to the council for another vote.

Stothert released the following remarks about the budget:

"The 2022 budget includes a property tax rate reduction for our citizens; the third reduction I have made in the last seven years. Thank you to the City Council for your support. We should lower the property tax rate whenever we can.

The General Fund budget appropriately funds public safety, city services, job growth and training, economic development, customer service, and pandemic recovery.

I am disappointed that the Council did not fund Councilmember Melton’s Tenant Assistance Program amendment. The budget prioritizes recovery, reinvestment, and rebuilding from the Covid-19 pandemic. Tenant assistance certainly addresses these priorities. We will immediately look at the Emergency Rental Assistance Program as an alternate funding source.

I am reviewing the budget and Capital Improvement Program amendments passed today and will make decisions about possible vetoes later this week."

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