Omaha mayor presents 2013 budget

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July 18th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle has unveiled his proposed budget for 2013.

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It began on a similar note to last year’s proposal. “I am again presenting to you a balanced budget with no proposed tax increase.” Suttle opened his presentation to members of the Omaha City Council Tuesday afternoon, and then reflected upon what he called a “good” previous year. (To see the full budget proposal, click here)

Mayor Jim Suttle’s 2013 budget proposal includes a 7.3% jump in expenditures. (Photo by Robyn Wisch)

“We are starting to see our economy bounce back from a crippling recession,” Suttle said. “Our workforce has grown by 10,000 positions, and job creation is expanding to areas of our city where we have had high unemployment.” Suttle, who already faces a slew of opponents as he readies to run for re-election in 2013, said the year showcased his office’s ability to stabilize the city’s finances through community outreach.
“This upturn in our economy has been hard fought on many fronts,” he said.

So what does this year’s prospective budget look like? A whopping $789 million in recommended appropriations: that’s a 7.3 percent increase from last year.

The majority of the increase lies in the city’s public works department. That can be attributed to Omaha’s federally mandated, but unfunded, Combined Sewer Overflow project. According to City Finance Director Pam Spaccarotella, the city has moved from the planning phase of CSO to implementation, which accounts for rising costs.

Other increases include the city’s general fund budget, which rose mainly due to higher wages and healthcare costs for public workers. According to Suttle, those are some of several factors all growing cities must face over time. “Like other large organizations we are facing rising costs in the price of labor, supplies, fuel and energy,” Suttle said. “As is the case with many families in our city, we are seeing health care costs increase due to the escalating price of health care nationwide.”

Suttle said utility costs are going up “six or seven percent in some cases.” He added the city has cut overall spending in other areas and eliminated nearly 60 unfilled positions in city government to help make up the difference. He was also quick to point out the success of Omaha’s restaurant tax as a key revenue source for the city. The controversial tax is now expected to bring in over $25 million in 2013. That’s an increase of about $6 million from this year.

The Omaha City Council now has close to a month to review the Mayor’s proposal before deciding whether to approve or amend it.

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