On Wednesday, Mayor Chris Beutler announced a change to his 2018–2020 budget proposal that will send more funding to roads projects, which face an annual $33 million funding shortfall through 2040.

The city said the increase in its health insurance rates will be around 6 percent less than first projected, which frees up almost $3 million for the next two years and money for years after that.

Mayor Beutler said he wants that money to make up the roads shortfall.

"What we wanted to do is put every piece of extra money that we found or became available to us to the purpose of roads," Beutler said.

City Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm said she agrees with using the extra money to fund roads projects.  But she said she submitted an idea to further alleviate some of those costs, like redirecting funds from the Old Cheney Road and Warlick Blvd. intersection improvement project.

"$7.2 million be moved from the 14th and Warlick project and put on city–wide roads projects because I think roads are extremely important to the people of Lincoln," Lamm said.

Also among her ideas: reducing the property tax rate by half a cent.

She said that could be accomplished through several actions, such as selling Pershing Auditorium, which she says continues to annually cost the city $100,000 to maintain while it sits unused.

"Not only by selling it will we eliminate that cost to the city, but also we perhaps will generate  — if we put it on the tax rolls — we will generate increased taxes," she said.

The council could vote on possible changes to the two-year budget on Monday.

Lamm's proposal:

(LINCOLN, NE) – Yesterday, Lincoln City Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm submitted ideas for changes to the Mayor’s proposed city budget. The changes included a call for reducing the city tax rate by half a cent to reduce property tax burden to home and business owners. “Increased revenues generated from upward valuations in homes and businesses this past 2 years provide the city with funds sufficient to lower the tax rate and still provide services for our residents,” stated Lamm. “We are in a unique position because of the increased property valuations to lower our tax rate just like the Lincoln Public Schools and Lancaster County Board have, if we simply work together and consider proper priorities that keep the taxpayer’s bottom line in mind,” Lamm says. Lamm’s proposal suggests that the reduction could be accomplished by a combination of actions that include: ? Eliminating raises in 2019-2020 designated for the Mayor’s appointees who received what have been referred to as “hidden” or “secret” raises in 2017 greater than 3% ? Limiting proposed hiring of new property tax funded employees to those serving the city in police, fire, and transportation ? Having any department except Police and Fire, whose proposed budget exceeds 4% spending increase submit changes to reduce its budget to no greater than 4% growth; ? Selling Pershing Auditorium to save the city $100,000 in annual maintenance costs. Lamm also invited the Mayor to identify and recommend alternative places where savings could provide the tax rate reduction. In addition to requesting changes to reduce property taxes, Lamm’s email to the Mayor included proposals by she and other members to redirect $7.2 million in 2019/2020 and $5-7 million per year thereafter that is currently budgeted for the 14th & Warlick project to roads projects throughout the city for the next 5 years, and to limit each of the proposed 50-70 fee increases to no more than 3% more than current fee charges. “We are told that the city will grow by 4%, yet the proposed budget grows spending by nearly 6%. That is not sustainable, it is not fiscally responsible, and we are in a position to limit spending beyond our growth. We should do exactly that.”

For more on Beutler's proposal, go to: http://lincoln.ne.gov/city/finance/budget/budget20.htm