Omaha Mayor’s ‘very modest’ tax cut appears safe

Joe Jordan
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Aug 22, 2014 2:06 AM
Omaha Mayor’s ‘very modest’ tax cut appears safe

Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

Photo by Joe Jordan

Mayor Jean Stothert

OMAHA—It’s looking more and more like Mayor Jean Stothert’s “very modest” property tax cut will survive.

One of the key Democrats on the city council, President Pete Festersen tells Nebraska Watchdog,“It’s a small property tax cut that I’m willing to support.”

Photo by Joe Jordan

DON’T CUT THE TAX CUT: City Council President Pete Festersen, a Democrat, tells Nebraska Watchdog he’s ready to back Republican Mayor Jean Stothert’s tax cut.

Moves to eliminate or slim down the two percent cut—$15 a year on a $150,000 house—need five votes to override Stothert’s promised veto. Without Festersen’s vote those five votes will be hard to come by.

According to Festersen (see video below), he wants more money for libraries, the “alternative traffic position” (aka bike czar) and police services. But instead of taking the money out of Stothert’s tax cut Festersen says the council’s looking at the city’s contingency (rainy day) fund.

Nebraska Watchdog: Do you think that’s where things are heading?

Pete Festersen: I think some of those will have support, yes.

Late Thursday the mayor’s office announced there’s even more money coming in, an additional $800,000. That’s due to the city’s s total property value jumping $300 million.

Stothert is asking the council to put $400,000 into the contingency fund and the remaining $400,000 into street repairs primarily in north and south Omaha.

Meanwhile, although Festersen is willing to keep Stothert’s tax cut, he says the city’s “long-term financial challenges” remain—including an $800 million pension shortfall and no new labor contracts for city workers including police and fire. Festersen says he’s worried the city bond rating could take another hit this fall.

The council is scheduled to vote on Stothert’s budget this Tuesday.

Contact Joe Jordan at joe@nebraskawatchdog.org.

Joe can be heard on Omaha’s KFAB radio every Monday at 7:40 a.m. and KHAS-AM in Hastings every Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.

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