Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog
OMAHA—Ads on fire hydrants, firefighters working longer shifts, paperwork only in English, and no more city tax money for the homeless, the food bank, the zoo, community centers, anti-truancy programs and the holiday lights celebration.
Those are just a handful of changes an anti-tax and spend Tea Party group wants to see in Republican Mayor-elect Jean Stothert’s first budget, the 2014 budget, which is due out in July.
Nebraska Watchdog first reported that according to several city hall sources Stothert is facing a 2014 budget, handed her by Mayor Jim Suttle, that is anywhere from $10 million to $19 million in the red. Stothert has since told the Omaha World-Herald that the deficit is $16.5 million.
During the campaign Stothert, who will be sworn in Monday night, promised more money for police, while also vowing to cut taxes and improve city services.
Asked by Nebraska Watchdog what cuts she is ready to make, Stothert said, “We have to get through the budget process first.”
Her wait-and-see strategy though appears to fall far short of the plan detailed by Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom. NTF—which was Tea Party before the conservative label became fashionable—has released a white paper, “Forward: A Plan of Action for City of Omaha.”
“The new administration must send citizens a clear message that it…will conserve and save instead of tax and spend, to manage the city using business principles,” says NTF.
Ripping through each department, NTF is pushing for changes many of which have rarely if ever been strongly considered.
Take the Fire Department where three dozen line saving items include an end to the current four-days on four-days off schedule which is “excessively expensive,” according to NTF. They’d like to replace 12 hour shifts with three 8 hour shifts arguing that some firefighters use the time off to “enjoy lucrative outside employment.”
Public Works would do less lawn mowing, tree cutting and street sweeping. In addition some street lights—it doesn’t say which ones—would be left dark at night.
And then there’s privatization for:
- Snow removal.
- City ice rinks, golf courses and marinas.
- Management of the TD Ameritrade ball park “because the city is losing money on this venue.”
- Major street resurfacing and maintenance.
- Funding cuts to subsidized housing.
- Abandon public art in parks.
- Require employees to provide a doctor’s note after two sick days, to “end sick leave abuse.”
- Lobbying the legislature to repeal the state smoking ban leading to repeal of the city’s anti-smoking ordinance “as the bans depress keno revenues.”
And then there are those taxes. NTF wants the elimination of the restaurant and cigarette taxes along with a lower wheel tax.
Contact Joe Jordan at [email protected]
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