I recently testified on two issues at the request of LIBA’s committees. First, we commented on the administrative contracts for Lincoln Public Schools.
You may recall that In January of 2009, LIBA and much of the community expressed outrage regarding salary increases for LPS administration. Increases in 2009 were over 11.5%. LIBA asked for several changes including more transparency.
In our testimony last week, LIBA recognized that today we have a much different picture. This year, LIBA commended the LPS Board of Education and LPS administration for their transparency. We also thanked them for accepting the recommendation that staff increases be all-inclusive. The 2013 increase is 1.8% and includes employer taxes, health insurance, retirement and salary. The increases and the contracts appear to be very appropriate.
On a city matter, LIBA testified before the City Council regarding the purchase and sale of property at a $129,000 loss. The city purchased several homes, demolished the houses and then sold the vacant property in the name of “neighborhood rehabilitation.” The city purchased four properties ranging in value from $14,900 to $37,000 and a fifth property for $105,000. The home purchased for $105,000, was sold for a substantial loss. LIBA appreciates the attempt to improve Lincoln’s neighborhoods. However, LIBA encouraged that caution be exercised in any transaction where there exists such a disparity between purchase and sale price.
The $105,000 of surplus TIF money used to purchase the property at 2800 Y St., if returned to the taxing entities, could have resulted in almost $65,000 for Lincoln Public Schools and $15,000 to the City of Lincoln. Though this amount is small compared to these entities’ total budgets it is large enough to make a significant difference in the lives of some Lincoln citizens. For example, $15,000 to the city could be used repair a rundown street or mean more adequately maintained park ground.
LIBA is not suggesting the city stop improving blighted neighborhoods but that any transaction as imbalanced as this should require a heightened level of scrutiny. Therefore LIBA recommends the council establish guidelines which would identify similar transactions, perhaps transactions of over $50,000, and require each to come individually before the council for justification and approval.
On an unrelated note, I have been asked to serve as the chairman of the Capital Humane Society banquet and auction. The CHS does wonderful work finding homes for pets in Lincoln. If you would consider a donation to the auction, or would like a ticket for the event on October 18th, please give me a call at the number below. Together we can help support the pets that make our lives so much better.
Finally, we have moved the LIBA luncheons. If you have considered joining LIBA, but could not attend the Tuesday luncheons, they now take place on the third Monday of every month. We average 180 business and community leaders who attend every month, and we would like you to be one of them! For more information on joining LIBA, please call me at (402) 466-3419.
LIBA studies and promotes these types of issues that are important to businesses and our community. If you have an interest in joining LIBA, please call me at 466-3419. LIBA membership is not restricted to just businesses. We also have “individual” memberships for those who want to help influence our local government decisions.
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