“Because I negotiated a police contract that results in millions of dollars in savings for the taxpayers, the action I am announcing today will enable the city to resurface an additional 50 lane miles of streets,” she said.
The funds recently became available once the city paid its obligation of back pay to police officers on April 21. In January, Mayor Stothert announced an agreement with the Omaha Police Officers’ Association that included retroactive salary and pension increases for 2016 and 2017.
The previous contract expired in 2013. Since then the city had set aside money into the Wage Adjustment Account to cover pay and related pension expenses that are required under a new contract. The back pay totaled $2.2 million, which was less than originally anticipated, leaving a surplus in the account.
“A breakthrough in negotiations with the Omaha Police Officers Association has made it possible for me to increase our commitment to street repair and resurfacing. I want to thank John Wells, OPOA president, for his leadership and willingness to bring the matter to settlement,” she said.
The additional $5 million builds on the $11.2 million already committed to street resurfacing in the 2017 budget. The mayor announced 41 locations for street resurfacing last month.
Since taking office, the mayor has overseen the resurfacing of 406 lane miles in Omaha at a cost of $44.6 million. This is approximately the distance between Omaha and St. Louis.
Mr. Mello’s plan for streets relies on using the $20 million annual payment on CenturyLink bonds once they are paid off. However, this will not happen until 2027.
“The reality is Mr. Mello’s position means he would press the ‘pause’ button for street resurfacing because his funding source is not available for another decade. Further, any new bond issue he proposes would require a tax increase unless Mello slashes funding for the current six-year capital improvement plan. Either way, the people of Omaha will be the losers,” Stothert said.