Senator pushes for city-county mergers
December 20th, 2010
Omaha, NE – Nebraskaâ€™s 93 counties may come under pressure to merge with city government next year. The Nebraska Legislature is looking for ways to save money, and close a projected budget shortfall of close to $1 billion. As part of a requirement to find 10 percent in budget reductions, the Judiciary Committee has proposed merging county services with nearby cities, and repealing a 1972 law that provided relief to counties by the state paying for county court clerks. Committee Chairman Brad Ashford said the time has come for counties and cities to take a serious look at consolidation.
â€œItâ€™s not going to work with 93 counties. Especially in the Omaha metropolitan area where the city makes up almost 85% of the county, in land mass and population, even more in populationâ€¦ and still have two governments.â€
â€œThatâ€™s 100 years ago thinking.â€
Douglas County Fiscal Administrator Steve Walker said the county has merged responsibilities with the city of Omaha in several departments, but total consolidation would be a different story. He said he doesn’t believe the political will exists for that to occur. And though he hasnâ€™t looked over the numbers, he said itâ€™ll likely be a significant cost to taxpayers.
â€œI have to assume itâ€™s several million dollars,â€ he said. â€œThat would be very, very difficult for the county to absorb, without considering other revenue sources, one of which is obviously an increase in property taxes.â€
â€œLast year, a majority of our departments took a 4% reduction in their operational costs to make our budget work.â€
The Committeeâ€™s budget cutting proposal will be debated when the Legislature reconvenes in January.
Comments are closed.