City’s on the right trackBy: By Tom Cosgrove Special to The News Messenger
Over the last few years, there have been declarations that city finances are headed for disaster, that we are in a nose dive headed for a crash, we are going bankrupt and that the sky is falling. The part that was usually omitted is that these “things” might happen only if no actions were taken.
But actions have been taken and the city is on the path to fiscal stability.
Last budget year, the council was split 2-3 on adopting a budget with two council members wanting to use reserve funds to avoid cutting staff to reduce costs and three of us choosing to not use reserve funds and make the difficult decision to adopt a budget that ended balanced. Because that budget was adopted, we were able to unanimously adopt a balanced budget for this fiscal year.
The reduction in staffing, shifting portions of the retirement and healthcare costs from the city to the employee, along with other cost reductions, has resulted in significantly reduced expenses to the city.
It should be noted that the fiscal sustainability committee report complimented the city for actions taken to reduce expenses. The city implemented almost half of the fiscal sustainability committee recommendations before the report was released.
Economic development in Lincoln is on the rise. Along with stores such as Target, TJ Maxx, Lowe’s, Staples, Fresh & Easy and many others, we have seen Beerman’s re-open, Wal-Mart occupy the old Rainbow Market site and, at the end of the year, Ripped Fitness will fill one of the large buildings near the Post Office.
Now that the Highway 65 bypass is completed, there are opportunities for retail businesses to grow not only in our downtown but in the Twelve Bridges retail center and at the Ferrari Ranch interchange. Next year, when the improvements on Nelson Road are complete, our airport will finally be connected to the state highway system and our employment center will be ready to add new jobs.
We have the infrastructure – drainage, wastewater, water and solid waste in place. These projects are part of the long-term economic development plans of the city.
No doubt there are further challenges ahead of us and those challenges should be met head on, as we have done in the past.
But some people continue to make unfounded and misguided statements of fiscal disaster and bankruptcy. For them, the sky is still falling. Not only do these comments scare people in our community needlessly but they also have the potential to “scare off” future economic development opportunities that could help our community in the future and therefore are irresponsible and damage our community as well.
Tom Cosgrove is a City Council member for 18 years. He retires after this term.