Published: Tue, January 15, 2019


City leaders find consensus on “Better Streets for a Stronger Future” initiative


LINCOLN - A coalition of community leaders today said a quarter-cent sale tax for streets is needed to keep Lincoln strong and growing.  The group is asking the City Council to place on the April 9 primary ballot a measure to raise the City sales tax one-quarter cent for six years, starting October 1, 2019.   The sales tax increase would generate about $13 million a year for a total $78 million for streets over six years.

“Because our transportation system is key to economic development, public safety and our quality of life, streets have been a priority throughout my Administration,” said Mayor Chris Beutler.  “We have increased street funding 71 percent since 2010, but we know there is much more to be done in our growing City.  Since the Citizens’ Transportation Coalition issued its recommendations a year ago, we have been working hard with all sectors of the community to reach compromises and find consensus on the street funding issue.”

The Mayor thanked City Council member Roy Christensen for working with him to bring the measure to the Council.  The proposal to place the sales tax increase on the City ballot will be introduced to Council at its January 28 meeting, and a public hearing is scheduled for February 4.  Placing a local option sales tax on the ballot requires five votes on the Council. 

“We have developed a clear outline of how the funds would be used,” Christensen said.  “We’ll be able to extend the life of existing neighborhood and arterial streets through repair, rehabilitation and reconstruction.  And 25 percent of the funding will be reserved for new construction to promote private sector investment.  The money will not be used for sidewalks, trails or traffic signals, and it will not be bonded so we will not have debt and interest payments.”

The quarter-cent increase would cost the average Lincoln household about $31 annually.  To offset the impact of the sales tax on new homes and businesses, a separate resolution will be introduced to freeze impact fees at the December 31, 2018 rate for five years if voters approve the quarter-cent sales tax increase

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce President Wendy Birdsall voiced support from the Chamber for this initiative, noting the importance of improved roads and road maintenance as being vital to local businesses.

“The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce voices its support for a quarter-cent sales tax as an important first step to address Lincoln's own infrastructure challenges. Here in Lincoln, the Citizens' Transportation Coalition found that we have not been spending enough to maintain and improve our infrastructure. We agree with that conclusion. I’m proud to stand with so many community leaders in support of this proposal.”

The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce joined the Better Streets for a Stronger Future Citizens’ committee, comprised of representatives from the Home Builders Association of Lincoln, Realtors Association of Lincoln, Lincoln Independent Business Association and other local leaders.