City Manager gets five percent raise

Facade improvement plan proposed at DLA meeting
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Know and Go:

What: Special Lincoln City Council meeting on water rates

When: 3 p.m. today

Where: First floor meeting room, Lincoln City Hall, 600 Sixth St.

Lincoln City Manager Matt Brower was unanimously awarded a five-percent raise Tuesday night by the Lincoln City Council.

The raise was divided by two, with half going to salary and half going to a deferred compensation plan. Brower’s total salary increase went from $193,500 to $203,175.

Mayor Peter Gilbert said “the best thing” Brower has done for Lincoln is his recruitment and promotion of city employees.

Councilman Gabriel Hydrick called Brower an “All-star” who has “exceeded my expectations.”

The council will meet again at 3 p.m. today for a special hearing on water rates.

Façade Improvement Plan

A program designed to create an incentive for downtown landlords to improve the facades of local businesses was proposed Friday by Lincoln Economic Development manager Shawn Tillman.

Tillman introduced the façade preservation program at a regular meeting of the Downtown Lincoln Association. Funding for the incentive program would come from unspent bond proceeds left over from the city’s Redevelopment Agency.

Tillman said the former Redevelopment Agency had a loan program that was similar.

“The city manager and I have been trying to come up with way to give incentive to improve facades,” Tillman said. “The program would cover 50 percent of costs of façade improvement – to a maximum of $7,500.”

The city would provide the money to commercial property owners through a covenant.

“If the city were to give money at below market rates the projects would be subject to prevailing wages which would increase the costs considerably,” Tillman said. “Property owners would have to complete their project within six months.”

Tillman added owners with a completed façade project would turn in their receipts, the project would be inspected and, if approved, the city would make out a check for half the cost of project. Also eligible for the program would be façade projects completed within the last six months that meet program guidelines.

 “We want a bunch of little projects downtown rather than one big project,” Tillman said. “I will be presenting this to the Economic Development Committee for recommendation to the City Council. It still must be approved by the City Council and funding must be set by the council.”

“The historic character is our stock and trade for our downtown – we want to enhance it,” Tillman added. “We are very fortunate this vibe exists.”

Tillman said there are no design guidelines and that projects would be subject to administrative design review by Community Development director Matt Wheeler.