The Lincoln City Council took the advice of The Mayor and a Citizens Transportation Coalition Monday, voting 6-1 to place a quarter cent sales tax increase on the April Primary Election ballot.  If approved, the six year tax will be expected to raise approximately $13 Million per year.  The money is earmarked for construction and repair of streets.

Bob Caldwell, co-chair of the Transportation Coalition told the City Council the needs are even greater.

“We found a $21 Million deficit in system preservation and maintenance, and that’s per each year.  We also found a $7 Million a year deficit in our system optimization, and that’s signalized intersections.  And then we found a $5 Million a year deficit in growing our streets.”

Caldwell, the C-E-O of NEBCO construction, said costs are rising 5-7% per year, so repairing current streets as soon as possible will keep the cost as low as possible.  He also pointed out that the increasing fuel efficiency of vehicles is driving down the amount of money the City receives each year from the State’s gasoline tax.

In discussion of the motion, Councilman Carl Eskridge said it  became obvious to him, in travels to other states, that Lincoln is lagging behind in the amount of money devoted to streets.  Council member Jayne Raybould said Lancaster County is fortunate enough to be one of the few growing counties in Nebraska, but added that we haven’t kept up with the cost of growth.

The only no vote came from Council Member and Mayoral candidate Cyndi Lamm, who didn’t dispute the need for better streets.  “It is time the city put proper priorities on the roads, the public safety that includes roads, pay attention to the taxpayer dollars, and live within our means.”

Voters will decide at the April primary election whether to authorize the additional tax and the corresponding increase in street building and repair.