Mayor: City can't wait on public safety improvements - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Mayor: City can't wait on public safety improvements

Mayor: City can't wait on public safety improvements

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 Posted By: Camila Orti

The Mayor is ready to move forward on public safety improvements, even though city council members aren't in as big of a hurry.

Mayor Chris Beutler and public safety officials are scratching their heads. On Monday, the City Council voted against putting the city's safety bond issue on the November ballot, much to the Mayor's surprise.

"We thought we had six votes," Beutler said in a news conference Thursday.

The $34 million proposal would build four more fire stations and update the 911 radio system.

The three council members that voted against it said they were concerned with how the city would pay for it.

"Let's really go through this, let's get the hard numbers down," Councilman Jon Camp said in the Monday meeting, "that's the responsible way to do it for our citizens."

In response, the Mayor is putting together a committee to look at different financing options. He says there's a reason for urgency. The city's newest fire station was built in 1997. Since then, Lincoln's grown by 57,000 people, meaning more than 9,000 addresses are outside of LFR's four-minute response time.

"We simply can no longer cover the city limits of Lincoln in the same period in 2014 that we could in 1997," Public Safety Director Tom Casady said.

Even higher on Casady's priority list is updating the 25-year-old communications system. He says it's so out-dated, they'd be scrambling if something were to break.

"It simply cannot be fixed and cannot be repaired any longer," he said.

 The Mayor will appoint a committee headed by Public Safety Director Tom Casady to confirm the financing options and make a recommendation by Thanksgiving.   The group will include Council members, financial experts, community members and other public safety professionals.  A Pre-Council meeting will be scheduled for Casady to present the latest information to Council members.  The City will also continue its Taking Charge public engagement process so residents can weigh in on their preferences.

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