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Omaha, Nebraska

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Omaha is a city in U.S. state of Nebraska. It is one of 22 cities in the state. With a population of 427,872 in 2010, it is the nation’s 42nd largest city. It is the county seat for Douglas County.[1]

Budget

The adopted 2012 budget totals in $735,178,894 expenditures.[2]

Expenditure 2011 2012 Recommended 2013
General Government $11,725,375 $12,566,519 $12,870,968
Planning $6,852,822 $7,034,304 $7,926,988
Parks, Rec and Public Property $28,771,550 $31,158,807 $29,302,378
Fire $70,689,884 $68,064,984 $72,149,643
Police $112,616,095 $118,016,343 $121,629,073
Public Works $203,760,191 $306,544,626 $336,647,599
Convention and Tourism $2,970,513 $3,113,445 $3,189,925
Library $12,332,636 $12,529,058 $13,376,472
Other Budgetary Accounts $110,814,195 $67,238,627 $67,578,411
Debt Service $102,327,986 $108,923,181 $124,297,614
Total $662,861,247 $735,178,894 $788,969,071

2010

The city has a current deficit of $34 million, and the proposed budget of $70 million already included a $5.5 million cut.[3] Omaha mayor's new mayor, Jim Suttle,, defends raising taxes he said he would cut. He has proposed the following tax increases:[4]

  • Wheel Tax Up 65%, on average $35 to $58 per car. The tax would raise $8.5 million.
  • Restaurant Tax 4%, on food and drink. Raises $23.5 million.
  • Property Tax Up 9.3%, on average $60 a year. Raises $12 million

300 people attended a town hall meeting to protest the proposed $44 million in new taxes, but Suttle maintained it is the only solution for the city.[5] Currently, four fire stations are considered being cut, terminating 54 firefighter positions.[3] City Council member Jean Stothert, has criticized Fire Chief McDonnell’s budget cutting plan is not acceptable. According to Stothert, “If Chief McDonnell’s best effort is a plan ‘that people will die’ I question his ability to manage his department and do what is best for the citizens of Omaha.”[6] Shortly after, Suttle announced that the deficit for the city shrunk to $7.6 million, but maintained that the new taxes should be implemented.[7]

State Senator Abbie Cornett has proposed legislation, which would defeat the taxes, by not allowing a municipality to levy a tax people outside of its border.[8]

Support of the budget[9]

  • Omaha Together One Community (OTOC)
  • Aida Amoura of Forward Omaha

Oppose the budget

  • Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce
  • Alliance for the Private Sector

Public Employees

Elected officials

The city of Omaha operates under a Mayor-Council government. The City Council is the legislative branch of government and is made up of seven members representing individual districts for four year terms.[10]

First Last Position District
Pete Festersen Council Member 1
Ben Gray Council Member 2
Chris Jerram Council Member 3
Garry Gernandt Council Member 4
Jean Stothert Council Member 5
Franklin Thompson Council Member 6
Thomas Mulligan Council Member 7

The executive branch is the Mayor. The current Mayor is Jim Suttle.[11]

2009

There was a recall effort for Mayor Jim Suttle, which was filed by the Mayor Suttle Recall Committee.[12]

Salaries

See also: Nebraska public employee salaries

According to DataOmaha, Omaha paid $178,569,645 in salaries to employees in 2010 with an average of $43,692 and median salary of $45,965.[13]

First Last Position Base Pay
Ricky Cunningham Planning Director $184,644.25
Paul Kratz City Attorney $159,999.76
Robert Stubbe Public Works Director $148,624.90
Richard O\'Gara Human Resources Director $142,211.43
Pamela Spaccarotella Finance Director $140,000.14
Alexis Hayes Police Chief $130,683.37
Martin Conboy III Deputy City Attorney $127,088.78
Thomas Mumgaard Deputy City Attorney $127,088.76
Michael McDonnell Fire Chief $125,096.93
Steven Oltmans Chief of Staff Operations $124,999.93

Pensions

See also: Nebraska public pensions

Information regarding City of Omaha pensions can be found here.

Emergency services

Omaha has its own police and fire departments.

Police contract 2010

Omaha's City Council voted unanimously on May 18, 2010 to force over 1,000 retired police officers, firefighters, and civilian workers to pay for part of their health insurance. An attorney representing the unions of the workers who would be forced to pay for the health insurance is filing suit in U.S. District Court in Omaha. The lawyer, Mike Dowd, is asking for a temporary injunction to stop the ordinance from taking effect. Dowd says the contract with the Omaha Firefighters Union says, “The premiums shall be paid by the city.”[14] Before the vote, City Council members, Republican Jean Stothert and Democrats Chris Jerram and Ben Gray, said the city would be close to bankruptcy without the measure.[15]

The City is currently negotiating a new contract with the Omaha Police Union. The proposed contract could not be discussed with the public due to a gag order, and has been hotly contested by the city council who call the police contract the "biggest bill taxpayers get."[16] There has also been concerns about City Council President Garry Gernandt voting on the contract because he is a retired police officer, though lawyers have ruled there would be no conflict of interest.[17]

If the contract is approved, the City would owe the police pension fund $12.5 million in 2010 into the police pension fund, bringing the budget deficit up to $22.5 million.[18] Or the money could be owed in 2010, plus accrued interest.[18]

Union support

Terry Moore, President of the Omaha Federation of Labor, announced that 14 “key leaders of the Omaha business and labor communities” are supporting the contract.[19] 28 unions are part of the Omaha Federation of Labor, including the Omaha Firefighter's Union. The Federation was also found to have given significant campaign contributions during the past election, totally to $225,500.[19]

Name Contribution received
Suttle $84,000
Jerram $31,000
Gray $25,000
Gernandt $5,500
Stothert $17,000 (independent expenditures)
Festersen $8,000
Thompson $600

Firefighters

A 2010 examination of the fire department found payroll records and time sheet to be "unreliable."[20]

Lobbying

See also: Nebraska government sector lobbying

The City of Omaha last paid for lobbying services in 2009 and in 2001. The city paid $40,000 in 2009 and $10,000 in 2001.[21]

Transparency & public records

The city of Omaha website does not have any information regarding public records requests or policies.

Taxes

Information on billing and tax procedures can be found on the revenue section of the Department of Finance.

Website evaluation

Grade2.pngB-
Budget
{{{1}}}
Meetings
{{{1}}}
Elected Officials P
Partial.png
Administrative Officials
{{{1}}}
Permits, zoning
{{{1}}}
Audits
{{{1}}}
Contracts P
Partial.png
Lobbying P
Partial.png
Public Records N
600px-Red x.png
Local Taxes N
600px-Red x.png

School district websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process
Main article: Evaluation of Nebraska city websites

Last rated on July 23, 2012.

The good

  • Budget
    • Budgets are posted.[22]
  • Meetings
    • Council meeting times and agendas are published online.[23] Videos and minutes are also archived.[24]
  • Elected Officials
    • Council members and their phone numbers are listed. You can e-mail them through a form on the website.[25]
  • Administrative Officials
    • Department staff is listed with contact info.
  • Building Permits and Zoning
    • Planning and zoning information is online.[26]
  • Audits
    • Audits are posted online.[27]
  • Contracts
    • Bids are posted online.[28]
  • Lobbying
    • Information on how to register as a lobbyist is available.[29]
  • Local Taxes
    • Information provided on taxes other than property taxes.[30]

The bad

  • Elected Officials
    • Email addresses are not provided.
  • Contracts
    • Current contracts not posted.
  • Lobbying
  • Public Records
    • No information regarding public records requests.
  • Local Taxes
    • Property tax information is not posted.

External links

Wikipedia-logo-en.png [[Wikipedia:Lincoln, Nebraska|]]

References

  1. City Home
  2. 2012 Budget
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nebraska Watchdog, Exclusive: Fire Stations on Omaha Budget Hit List, Aug. 4, 2010
  4. Nebraska Watchdog, Suttle’s Tax Hikes Get Mixed Review From Council, July 21, 2010
  5. Nebraska Watchdog, Suttle on Budget Fall-Out: “I’m ready to suffer any consequences," July 29, 2010
  6. Nebraska Watchdog, Exclusive: Omaha Fire Chief’s Competence Questioned, Aug. 4, 2010
  7. Nebraska Watchdog, City Hall Good News-Bad News: Budget Better-More Taxes Still Needed, Aug. 17, 2010
  8. Nebraska Watchdog, Lawmaker Looking to Derail Omaha’s New Taxes, Sept. 28, 2010
  9. Nebraska Watchdog, Mayor Suttle’s Budget and Police Deal Hit Hard, Aug. 10, 2010
  10. City Council
  11. Mayor
  12. Nebraska Watchdog, Suttle Recallers Make it Official, Omaha Joins National List, Sept. 24, 2010
  13. DataOmaha, City of Omaha employee salaries database
  14. "City Retirees Lose Council Vote, Lawsuit Next," Nebraska Watchdog, May 18, 2010
  15. "Council Comments on City’s “Bankruptcy”" Nebraska Watchdog, May 19, 2010
  16. Nebraska Watchdog, Omaha Police Deal Irks Council: Includes “Gag Order”, July 12, 2010
  17. Nebraska Watchdog, City Lawyers: No Conflict for Council President, State Ruling Next, July 23, 2010
  18. 18.0 18.1 Nebraska Watchdog, Exclusive: Omaha Police Deal, Pay Now or Pay Later, Aug. 3, 2010
  19. 19.0 19.1 Nebraska Watchdog, Exclusive: Push for Omaha Police Deal Has Ties to Campaign Cash, Aug. 16, 2010
  20. Nebraska Watchdog, Foley: Omaha’s Fire Payroll Records “Inadequate and Unreliable”, Oct. 28, 2010
  21. OpenSecrets.org, City of Omaha, NE
  22. Budgets
  23. Meeting Agendas
  24. Meeting journals and videos
  25. Council Members
  26. Planning and zoning
  27. Audits
  28. Purchasing
  29. Lobbyist Registration
  30. Revenue