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(February 4, 2020)

City Council Testimony

Good afternoon council members,

The condition of our streets is a top priority for me and for our taxpayers.

I know it’s a top priority for all of you too.

My job is to identify and study issues that need to be resolved and to present reasonable solutions to those issues. 

The condition of our streets is one of those issues.

That’s why for the last two years, I have worked with a team of experts to develop  a solution to stop the deterioration of our infrastructure, but it will take all of us, and our constituents to agree it’s worth the expense.

I first presented “A Roadmap For Better Streets” to the council last summer.

This analysis of our road infrastructure shows us what is needed to create a  long-term, pavement maintenance and rehabilitation program,  and how much it will cost.

In July, I started a series of eleven town halls to present the same information to our taxpayers.

Or streets have been neglected and underfunded  for 50 years due to lack of action by previous  mayors and city councils.

It’s time to change that, to present a comprehensive plan and let voters decide.

Since I have been mayor, I have proposed, and you have approved annual budgets to resurface more than 750 lane miles of road—that’s the distance between Omaha and Waco, Texas.

But it’s not good enough, we must do more.  Currently, we spend approximately $41 million dollars  a year and, resurface approximately 125 lane miles.

Our analysis shows we should spend $75 million annually.That’s equal to 5% of the value of our total street infrastructure which is $1.5 billion. So, we have an annual revenue shortfall of $34 million.   With the recommended level of funding of $75 million a year, we can double our road resurfacing program to 250 lane miles. Every street in Omaha could be resurfaced over the course of its 20-year average lifespan.

This is a pavement maintenance program, designed to prevent us from getting into this situation again where the roads deteriorate beyond repair.

Consider last year for example; we spent $17 million dollars on pothole repair.

For $17 million, we could resurface about 185 lanes of road.

We are wasting taxpayer money on a temporary solution to fill potholes, when we have a long-term program ready to implement, with the voter’s approval.

After studying all potential funding options, my recommendation is a $200 million-dollar bond issue, to be placed on the May 12 primary ballot.

The right thing to do is to let those paying for it…the taxpayers… make the decision.

The $200 million bond issue will raise $40 million additional dollars each year for five years,  enough to cover the $34 million shortfall.

It will pay for road rehabilitation,  reconstruction, and new construction projects in Omaha; in every one of your districts. 

It will include neighborhood and arterial streets.

Every part of the city benefits.

Yes - it will require a mill levy increase to pay the bond debt.

based on our just  revised financial projections, we now estimate  the levy increase will be  approximately $26 a year for the owner of a $100,000 house.

This will be a one-time levy increase; subsequent bond issues will not require additional taxpayer responsibility.

I am strongly convinced this is the best way forward for our city.

We considered other ways to increase our revenue;  increasing the wheel tax, or the sales tax.  

To generate enough money to fill that $34 million gap, the basic wheel tax would need to be increased 143%, from $50 a year to $122 a year.

As you know, state law caps the local option sales tax at our current rate of 1.5%.  The legislature would have to change state law before we could look at this option.

Or, we could hope the legislature eliminates sales tax exemptions, which would bring in more revenue but that’s a longshot; and we could be waiting a long time.

The time to act is now.

As always, public input and support are important in our work.  

I have made the “Road Map for Better Streets”  presentation and suggested a bond issue at dozens of public meetings and the support is positive and supportive.

We could secure the funding without a public vote by simply raising taxes.

However, that would be contrary to my long-held belief that major initiatives of the city should be voted on by those paying the bill.

If voters say yes, we will start work this summer.

We already have a preliminary list of projects for phase one, which you also have, and is available on the city website.

This plan will also include additional funding for unimproved streets.

Keeping taxes as low as possible is important to me, so is providing the services taxpayers expect.

Omaha is a thriving city with an exciting future and greatly improving national reputation.

Our city infrastructure must match our potential.  Our citizens expect it and deserve it.

We cannot continue to waste $17 million a year on bandaid repairs to fill potholes.

Your ‘yes” vote to place the bond issue on the May primary ballot means you support letting your constituents decide.

A “no” vote means you don’t think voters should have a choice.

I am asking you to vote yes on the ordinance. 


(January 23, 2019)

(Omaha, NE) – Mayor Jean Stothert will ask the Omaha City Council to authorize a transportation bond issue to fund a long-term pavement rehabilitation and reconstruction program. The bond issue will be on the May 2020 ballot.

“Fixing the streets is fundamental to everything else,” said Mayor Stothert. “The condition of our streets is a top priority for me and for our taxpayers. Our streets have been underfunded for at least 50 years. We can stop the deterioration of our infrastructure but it will take all of us to agree it’s worth the expense. Our needs are greater than our revenue.”

Last year, Mayor Stothert consulted with a team of independent engineering experts to evaluate current street infrastructure and estimate the cost to develop the city’s first pavement rehabilitation and reconstruction program.

The evaluation showed the City should spend $75 million annually (5% of the value of the total street infrastructure of $1.5 billion) to resurface 250 lane miles of road. Currently, the City spends approximately $41 million a year and resurfaces approximately 125 land miles. This results in an annual shortfall of $34 million. With the recommended level of funding, every lane mile in Omaha could be resurfaced over the course of its 20-year average lifespan.

A $200 million transportation bond would raise $40 million each year for five years, enough to cover the shortfall. It would require a mill levy increase to pay the bond debt, equivalent to approximately $35 a year for the owner of a $100,000 house. This estimate is based on 2020 financial projections and it is anticipated the increase will be lower.

“A bond issue is the only option that lets voters make the decision,” said Mayor Stothert.

Other options considered included an increase in the wheel tax, sales tax or property tax. Mayor Stothert will not support a tax increase that does not have voter approval.

There are approximately 5,000 lane miles of street in Omaha. Projects funded with bond revenue will include neighborhood and arterial streets in all seven City Council Districts. The plan will also include additional funding for unimproved streets. 


Street rehabilitation
Reconstruction and new construction
Residential asphalt resurfacing
Concrete streets and concrete panel replacement
Brick street repair

City budgets for the last ten years show the history of street resurfacing funding from a low of $2.8 million in 2010 to the current budget of $12.5 million. Mayor Stothert has doubled the resurfacing budget since 2103.

2010: $2.8 million  
2011: $3.9 million  
2012: $5.6 million  
2013: $6.6 million 
2014: $6.9 million 
2015: $7.3 million
2016: $8.7 million
2017: $10.7 million
2018: $11.7 million
2019: $12.2 million
2020: $12.5 million

In the first six months of 2019, the City spent $13.25 million to repair approximately 67,000 potholes.  “Potholes are a symptom of our aging infrastructure,” said Mayor Stothert. “A long-term funding solution will reduce annual repair costs but we have to make the financial commitment. Without voter approval, we will continue to prioritize spending on road infrastructure, but we will never catch up and the funding gap will increase.”

The City Council must approve an ordinance to put the bond issue on the May 12 ballot. The first reading will be on the January 28 agenda, a public hearing on February 4 and final reading and vote on February 11.

In July 2019, Mayor Stothert, City Finance Director Steve Curtiss and city engineers developed “A Road Map to Better Streets”, including an examination of current and past funding and options for increased revenue. The report has been presented at dozens of public meetings and is available on the city website. https://www.cityofomaha.org/images/pdf/Mayors_Road_Town_Hall-FINAL.pdf

Mayor Stothert Interview Grow Omaha February 2, 2020


List of Proposed Preservation Fund (SPF) Projects

Map of Proposed Preservation Fund (SPF) Projects


(July 9, 2019)

Mayor Jean Stothert will hold a series of Town Hall meetings this month to gather input to develop the city’s first long-term road maintenance and rehabilitation plan.

”These public meetings will give citizens the opportunity to participate in the development of a maintenance and improvement plan that will greatly improve the safety and longevity of our streets and reduce annual maintenance costs,” said Mayor Stothert.

The Town Hall series, “A Road Map to Better Streets” will provide an overview of infrastructure needs, repair and maintenance, major construction projects, and current and future funding options. 

Mayor's Road Town Hall Presentation 

Omaha World-Herald Editorial

“Street repair and resurfacing have been one of our top priorities since I was elected in 2013. Each year we have increased the street maintenance budget, but we need to do much more,” said Mayor Stothert. “Citizen input and buy-in will be an important part of our planning process.”

City budgets for the last 10 years show the annual budget increases in road resurfacing:

2010: $2.8 million                           2015:  $7.3 million

2011: $3.9 million                           2016: $8.7 million

2012: $5.6 million                           2017: $10.7 million

2013: $6.6 million                           2018:   $11.7 million

2014: $6.9 million                           2019:   $12.2 million

Mayor Stothert’s 2020 budget, to be introduced to the City Council on July 23, will include another increase in the resurfacing budget. In addition, the 2019-2024 Capital Improvement Plan includes approximately $320 million over the next 6 years for transportation projects, $66 million in 2019. The CIP lists capital projects that are funded with bonds.


Tuesday, July 16  4:30-6:00 pm  Saddlebrook Community Center  14850 Laurel Ave 
Thursday, July 18  5:00-6:30 pm The Venue at Highlander 75 North 2112 N. 30th Street
Friday, July 19  11:00am-12:30  The Salvation Army Kroc Center 2825 Y Street
Monday, July 22 6:30-8:00 pm Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center  6400 University Drive

Since taking office in 2013, Mayor Stothert has held 42 Town Hall meetings, seven each year in September and October.  A Fall Town Hall series schedule will be announced in September.

We welcome your feedback on the Road Map to Better Streets presentation. Public feedback will be used to develop an action plan. Please use This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to provide your opinion.

To report potholes or other concerns about specific locations please use the Mayor's Hotline at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., omahahotline.com or call 402-444-5555.

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