Auditors give Lincoln high marks for mid-year budget

City Council
By: Carol Percy, Reporter Lincoln News Messenger
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Those attending the City Council meeting Tuesday settled in for a long report given by the city’s auditors but, at the end, the news was positive.

 “The city is budgeting realistically and spending prudently,” said Marilee Smith of Smith and Newell CPA’s, the city of Lincoln’s new auditor.

On a light note, Smith joked that she would not read aloud the 105-page report prepared by her company but instead would provide highlights.

Although Smith pointed out seven issues with the budget that needed attention, she said that the city was doing a good job “overall.”

Lincoln Councilman Spencer Short added that the audit shows that “we’re in a good place. The economy will keep improving and we’ll continue to budget and spend very frugally.”

Lincoln’s City Manager Jim Estep was also positive about the budget.

“The mid-year budget is just a check to see where we are and we’re actually doing a little better from a revenue standpoint than we thought we would be,” Estep said.

Revenues are “substantially better” than what was projected at the beginning of the year, according to Estep, mainly due to fees paid to the city by developers.

“We’re doing about 50 percent better than expected. There’s now a need to build new homes for some period of time,” Estep said.


New interim police chief is sworn in

Before about 50 audience members, Dan Ruden, the city’s new interim police chief, was sworn in by city clerk Pat Avila

Ruden, a 30-year veteran of police work, said he had been warmly welcomed by both the police department and the community. (See related story this issue.)


Art League of Lincoln still seeks new home

Jean Cross, the Art League of Lincoln’s executive director, thanked City Council for trying to find a new venue for the group. On Feb. 14, the council offered the nonprofit Art League of Lincoln a lease on the building located at 580 Sixth St. in Lincoln. The lease would run from March 1, 2013 until June 30, 2013. The art league would pay for all utilities and $1 for rent.

However, Cross said that the venue offered by the city was “too small” for the league’s needs.

“As of five weeks ago, all of our plans had to be relooked at. We might have to take the (America’s Clayfest) show outside of Lincoln for this year,” Cross said. “We have to make a decision by this Friday.”

Cross explained that Gladding, McBean in January withdrew permission to use its facilities for the Clayfest show because of ADA issues. That resulted in the art league being “challenged to quickly find a new home for the show, which is slated to take place in late April,” according to Cross.

“We’re doing the best we can, but no matter what happens, we’ll come back next year. We want to create a vital, growing and committed art presence in Lincoln,” Cross said.