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City of Omaha - Nebraska

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(December 13, 2018)

A policy to provide new funding options for Street Improvement Districts (SIDs) has been developed and sent to the Omaha City Council for approval. The recommended policy includes funding sources for low-income households and renters and for the first time, includes Community Development Block Grant funding in certain neighborhoods.

“This is an innovative option that meets our goal to have a policy that is applied fairly to all applicants,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

The 2019-2025 Capital Improvement Plan includes $820,000 annually for Street Maintenance Districts (SID) and Road Maintenance Districts (RMD) cost sharing, but requires a new policy to be in place.

For many decades, property owners have been solely responsible for the cost of improvements to neighborhood streets that were built many years ago, do not meet current city standards, and have deteriorated to the point they need to be replaced.  In 2017, Mayor Stothert appointed a citizen advisory committee to review a new policy for replacing unimproved streets. The primary goals of the committee were to determine a cost sharing method, considerations for high poverty areas, selection and prioritization of street project locations, and development of a clear process of communication between the City and neighborhoods that participate in a SID or RMD. 

The City Council amended the recommended policy and Mayor Stothert vetoed it, saying it created too many exceptions. The Council did not try to override the Mayor’s veto.  The new policy is on the City Council agenda for approval on December 18.

The revised policy provides these new options:

● Residential areas in Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Area (NRSA) qualifying census tracts that have at least 50% unique, owner-occupied housing units may petition for a Street Improvement District, at 100% cost to the City. Currently, $300,000 has been budgeted for 2019.

● Residential areas in NRSA qualifying census tracts that have less than 50% unique, owner occupied housing units may apply to the Planning Department to have a SID included with the City’s Community Development Block Grant Annual Action Plan.  If approved, costs for these projects would be covered by Federal Block Grant funding.

“This policy addresses the need to provide additional funding options,” said Mayor Stothert.  “I believe the City must share this cost in all neighborhoods. It’s time we implement a policy that is fair for property owners on unimproved streets and affordable for the taxpayers.”

The City of Omaha has approximately 5,000 lane miles of streets, about 300 lane miles are considered unimproved.  In 2018, three RMDs and four SIDs were created.  Fifteen petitions are pending, in various stages of the process. 

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