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Council to consider $79.8M budget Tuesday

Police department staffing a key issue
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
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Know and Go:

What: Lincoln City Council budget hearing

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

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

A $79.8 million budget will be considered Tuesday night by the Lincoln City Council, with the hiring of additional city staff likely to be the main issue.

The proposed budget includes requests to staff nine city positions: a lieutenant for the police department; a geographic information system (GIS) manager, seasonal office assistant and construction manager for the engineering department; an associate engineer for the community development department and a maintenance worker, two seasonal maintenance workers and a seasonal office assistant for the public services department.

The council delayed action on the budget June 14 after Lincoln Mayor Spencer Short requested the hiring of two additional police officers. The proposed city budget includes a new lieutenant for the police department, requested by Police Chief Rex Marks, but not additional patrol officers.

“We’re constantly asking city staff to do more with less,” Short said June 14. “I suggest we do something out of the box and add police officers. I would like to see us add a minimum of two officers, with or without the lieutenant position.”

“I can’t support the lieutenant position without additional officers on the street,” Short added.

Short, at the June 14 meeting, said the city had $9 million in reserves, of which $4 million could not be touched, and some of the money should be used to augment the police department.

“The business of the city is providing service,” Short said June 14. “We need to pay more attention to staffing the organization. I would like to move forward with the goal of adding staffing.”

Lincoln City Manager Matt Brower, at the June 14 meeting, said adding two additional police officers would cost at least $245,000 annually.

In addition to researching the cost of hiring two more police officers, the council at the June 14 meeting directed city staff to return next Tuesday with more information regarding the cost of increasing the library’s public hours, the justification for hiring an associate engineer for the community development department and options for finding a permanent police station.

The council will also consider funding three community organizations: the Lincoln Community Foundation, $25,000; the Lincoln Volunteer Center, $2,500 and the Gathering Inn of Roseville, $15,000.

State law requires the city adopt a budget by July 1.