Mayor restores some city jobs in budget proposal

It's good news for some city employees whose jobs could have been on the chopping block. Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler is revising his proposed budget.  The mayor's original proposal was to eliminate some city jobs, but after conversations with the city council and complaints from the public, some of those jobs would be restored.

Public service officer, Debbie Northcott says her job often goes unnoticed, and it's more than just writing parking tickets. “I tow a lot of cars, patrol neighborhoods and assist citizens with vehicles even push them in the snow,” Northcott said.

Services, she says the city will miss if Mayor Chris Beutler's budget proposal is approved. Beutler now plans to reinstate 3 of the 8 full time public service officers who would have been cut. But that doesn't do any good for Northcott. The downtown and 2 residential PSO's are still being let go, which means she is too. “I've invested all my life basically. I would be sad to lose this position that I've had, that I've cared about for a long time,” Northcott said.

City Arborists won't be on the chopping block like Northcott's. 2 of those jobs are being restored. Bringing the number of Arborists in the field back to its current level. The Mayor is also bringing back evening hours to neighborhood pools and a Star Tran program for low income patrons.

“Low income residents have been particularly hard hit by the national recession and we want to make sure they continue to have access to the public transportation upon which they depend,” Mayor Beutler said.

So where will the money come from? Mayor Beutler will increase the amount of money being transferred from a special assessment fund…from 3.5 million dollars to 3.8 million. He'll also be making $65,000 dollars in cuts to Star Trans' administration, instead of increasing the ride for 7.50 program to 10 dollars, which, director of Public Works Greg MacLean, says could affect sales.

“The last time we had an increase in ticket program we did see a dip in sales but over time it comes back,” MacLean said.

Now remember this is just the Mayor's proposal. It still has to be approved by the city council. The public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for August 9th at 2:30 pm. The council will vote on final changes to the budget on August 11th.

The changes will be financed by increasing the transfer from Special Assessment Revolving Fund from $3.5 million to $3.8 million. The revision didn't come without a compromise from city union employees. The Mayor announced three of the four City civilian unions have agreed to change the City employee retirement plan to a $1 to $1.29 match for new employees. The unions are: Lincoln City Employees Union (LCEA), Lincoln “M” Class Employees Union (LMCEA and Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1293.