Developers' accounts more than $100K in arrears

Mayor threatens to cut off Community Development Department
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Lincoln Mayor Stan Nader threatened to cut the Community Development Department off from further supplies or support Tuesday night if local developers do not bring their accounts with the city up to date.

Developer deposit accounts, designed to pay for project-related services rendered by city staff and/or consultants, are more than $106,670 in arrears, according to a Jan. 30 memo from the city’s Community Development director Matt Wheeler to the City Council.

“This is troubling to me,” Nader said, referring to the Jan. 30 memo. “In 2011 and 2013, the city had to write off $5.6 million in uncollectable developers’ fees. Since then, the council has made it clear that this practice was no longer to take place. I’m not inclined to support any items giving staff more resources until this is cleared up.”

Nader made good on his threat Tuesday night by voting against the extension of a contract to consultant Michael Baker International for on-call services to the Community Development Department. The contract was approved 4-1.

Included among the developer accounts in arrears are:

  • Village 5 specific plan -$68,714.82
  • Village 7 -$10,512.29
  • Lincoln Meadows -$10,215.30
  • East 10th Street -$8,219.68
  • Village I developer agreement, -$4,527.27
  • Independence water supply assessment, -$1,711
  • Hidden Hills, -$1,583.94
  • Quick Quack Car Wash, -$1,189.44

Councilman Peter Gilbert said he met with City Manager Matt Brower and was assured the matter would be corrected.

“I said I want all these accounts in the black or no more work on projects. The city manager agreed,” Gilbert said. “This is leading us back to where we were when we wrote off $5 million. I see it happening again.”

Councilman Dan Karleskint called the negative account balances a “huge failing of the city and the system.”

“I’m upset by the numbers,” Karleskint said. “The deposits are not being managed.”

However, Karleskint said he is confident, after speaking with Community Development director Wheeler, that the “mistakes of the past won’t be repeated.” Karleskint suggested the Community Development Department prepare more frequent reviews of the accounts and report to the City Council more often.

Councilman Gabriel Hydrick asked if the council could hold off on approving the extension of the consultant’s contract and Wheeler said it was time sensitive.

“Without approval (of a contract-extension for Michael Baker International), we are hampered to do our job,” Wheeler said. “We rely on consultants because we are short-staffed. We rely on him for planning efforts and need this in place to make any new purchase orders.”