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Economy, public safety among city’s priorities

By: Stephanie Dumm News Messenger Reporter
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Economic development and public safety were two topics discussed during Tuesday morning’s Government Affairs Committee meeting. The bimonthly meeting is sponsored by the Lincoln Area Chamber of Commerce. Absent from the meeting was Mayor Spencer Short, who was scheduled to give updates on a regional wastewater project and the city’s finances. Short told The News Messenger the reason for his absence was “a mix-up of appointments.” City Councilman Stan Nader addressed the committee, and talked briefly about the fiscal sustainability committee’s work and economic development. The committee, formed last March 25, is charged with developing short-range and long-range fiscal plans that will put the city back on a firm fiscal footing, according to previous News Messenger reports. “The City Council is anxiously anticipating the results of the work of the fiscal sustainability committee,” Nader said. The committee will present “its full report,” Nader said, at a workshop from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 31. The location of that meeting has not been determined as of press time. “These folks have done a lot of work and given up their lives for the past six months,” Nader said. “It speaks to their level of concern and how the folks in this community want to solve this problem.” Nader also said he shares Short’s “No. 1 goal,” which is economic development. “I have taken on a personal challenge to try to reach out to businesses that might be a fit to our community,” Nader said. “Businesses are going to make our next economy.” Nader “is also researching the possibility of bringing factory outlets to Lincoln,” which are a “sales tax engine.” “The two things we need to have (for a factory outlet) is a senior community with lots of disposable income and an Indian casino,” Nader said. “We need 70 acres with minimal wetland issues, and government and highway access.” Lincoln Police Chief Paul Shelgren said the police department is looking for Citizens on Patrol program volunteers. “We are staying busy,” Shelgren said of the department. “Response times are up because we have a lot fewer people patrolling the streets.” The number of sworn officers went from 30 in 2010 to 21 in 2011, according to the Lincoln Police Department’s 2011 Annual Report. Shelgren said the department is “keeping a lid on” part one crimes, which include homicide, robbery and aggravated assault, and are referring property crimes to the online reporting system on the department website. “The overall attitude is we are going to keep doing as much as we can for as long as we can,” Shelgren said. “People have to take steps to protect their homes and personal safety because unfortunately we can’t be there at all times to do it.”