Locals satisfied with quality of life; concerned about crime, taxes


February 5th, 2014

Omaha, NE — Nebraskans and Iowans have spoken: While residents in Omaha and Council Bluffs love living in the metro, they worry that crime rates may threaten the region’s future.


This is according to research conducted as part of the Heartland 2050 project. Citizens in Douglas, Sarpy, Cass, Saunders and Washington counties in Nebraska; and Harrison, Mills and Pottawattamie counties in Iowa have been given the opportunity to re-imagine the region through a series of surveys and workshops.

Dee Allsop, CEO of Hearts+Minds Strategies, said those living in the Omaha-Council Bluff’s metro area have a high quality of life that they want to protect and ensure for future generations.

Unfortunately, many believe that the region’s crime rates may stand in the way. Sixty-six percent of respondents listed crime reduction as a top priority.

“In order to protect this quality of life that people love they always have some things they point to in order to help address that and the top concern is crime and helping to make their neighborhoods safer,” Allsop said.

Alsop said the Omaha-Council Buffs metro stood apart from other cities when it came to their concern about taxes. He said 54 percent of respondents want lower property taxes.

“Taxes don’t come up a lot in a lot of the places that I look at. It has occasionally but the degree it came up here and the consistency that it was mentioned was pretty significant,” Allsop said. “I looked at it a little bit. The level of taxation over all is not that much different than most states in terms of taxation as part of income but what is different here is the level of property taxation and where the taxes come from and so that perhaps is why it may be getting more attention is because it’s a bigger chunk out of one part of an individual’s monthly budget.”

The Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) is the organization spearheading Heartland 2050. Greg Youell, executive director of MAPA, said the newly formed collaboration between the Omaha Chamber of Commerce and numerous organizations in southwest Iowa shows the direction the region is headed towards.

“People are more and more recognizing that to really address the issues we have and to really grow we have to do that on a regional level,” Youell said. “Even though people identify with their state, with their city, we are a metropolitan area connected economically.”   

John Fregonese is a consultant for the project.  He said cities like Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas have greatly benefited from a regional partnership that resulted in the construction of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

“The structure of our cities and states doesn’t really recognize the fact that we live in metropolitan regions. The way people live their lives they ignore county and city lines—they move across it,” Fregonese said. “Where things fall through the cracks where you have a project so big that it’s regional or things are in between jurisdictions and fall between the cracks these regional visions are able to pick that up and allow people to organize in a regional way to get things done.”

People in the Omaha metro will have another opportunity to voice their opinions during the next set of Heartland 2050 events in April.

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