City of Lincoln set to approve $22 million
Part five: City wraps up General Fund discussions
Browne disagrees with Capital Project cuts
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[April 12, 2019]
City treasurer Chuck Conzo led Lincoln aldermen through the $22
million plus 2019-20 FY budget on March 25th and April 2nd.
Individual department heads spoke to the larger lines in the budget,
including Street Superintendent Walt Landers for the Streets and
In the street department that line item is increasing from $843,951
Landers pointed out some of the more significant increases within
the budget. He shared that there are two intersections that will
need upgrades in the traffic control devices. That line was
increased from $55,000 to $90,000 for upgrades at Woodlawn Road and
Union Street, also at Woodlawn and Heitman Drive. Landers added that
50 percent of the expense will be reimbursed by the state after the
work is done. The city has to budget for the full amount, pay the
bills, then the state will reimburse the city.
The tree and stump removal line is also increasing from $15,000 last
year to $50,000 in the new fiscal year. Landers said the bulk of
that increase was to cover grinding and cleanup work being done at
the city’s landscape waste landfill.
Other than the street lights and landfill work, there were no other
significant increases in the Street and Alley budget.
The only line left in the general fund budget was for health
benefits. Conzo said that the insurances renew at various times, so
he had estimated increases for the coverage. Actual coverage costs
will come in later, but he felt that the percentage increases were
City Administrator Beth Kavelman asked about the bidding process for
the health insurance. She had been asked if the city bids out the
health coverage. Conzo said the city is represented by Nancy Schaub,
who does bidding on the city’s behalf. Kavelman then asked if the
city bids out for Schaub’s services. There was no verbal answer to
the question, but it appeared that Conzo indicated that Schaub’s
services were not bid out.
Later in the evening, Conzo moved on to the Capital Projects special
fund. This line item is funded by the city’s revenues from the Non
Home Rule Tax and is used for specific expenses.
Within that line were expenses for street and sidewalk projects.
Conzo noted he had included a new expense of $420,000 for the new
construction of the Jefferson Street Bridge. There is also $30,000
budgeted for its design.
The Capital Projects line also includes expenditure for street
repair as well as sidewalk improvements. Conzo noted that he had
reduced both of those expense items from $500,000 in the current
year to $400,000 for this coming year for street repairs. For
sidewalks he had reduced the expense from $125,000 to $100,000.
[to top of second column]
Heidi Browne said that she felt the city could not cut any money from streets
and sidewalks. She said that she gets more calls about streets than anything
else. She said that while she supports all the departments, the fact was
constituents don’t care about new squad cars, they care about roads. Ron
Fleshman said he agreed with Browne that road repairs could not be cut.
Conzo had earlier in the evening also mentioned that this would be a renewal
year for the city’s General Obligation Bond. He had said that the city could
issue the bond for roughly $500,000 for the next three years. The idea then is
to expend the bond evenly across the three year period. That would equate to
$175,000 per year. Conzo said the city didn’t have to spend that amount each
year, and he certainly was not suggesting that they do so.
Now Tracy Welch spoke about the streets, agreeing with Browne and Fleshman and
adding that it is hard for the city to justify the ‘nice to haves” when the
roads need so much attention.
He told Conzo he thought the city should “get creative” and search out somewhere
in the budget to make up for the proposed cuts to the street and sidewalk lines.
Welch said he understood Conzo to say that the city will have a new GO bond, but
that it shouldn’t be used. Conzo said that was not the message he intended to
deliver. The message was to not use it all at once. Conzo said he would look at
increasing the transfer amount from the general fund and at transferring money
from the GO bond to make up the difference.
In the revised version of the budget presented on April 2nd, Conzo had increased
the street and sidewalk repair lines, bringing them back up to the previous year
balances. He then increased transfers from the General fund from $250,000 to
$325,000 and the transfer from the GO bond from zero to $75,000.
It should be noted also that Landers reported that the next big project on the
priority list for the city is the reconstruction of South Kickapoo Street from
Clinton Street to Wyatt Avenue. He said that project alone would take up the
larger portion of this year’s budget for street repairs.
In the final update of the general fund lines on April 9th, the total for the
new year comes to $7,421,155. Projected revenues for the general fund for the
new fiscal year comes to $7,530,548, showing that the budgeted expenditures are
well within the expected income for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
In the sixth and final segment of this year’s budget review on Saturday, LDN
will provide a brief overview of all the special designated fund accounts.