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(November 19, 2019)

Two important measures of the City’s financial health show continued strong results.

Moody’s and S & P Global have reaffirmed the City of Omaha bond ratings and the 2019 projected City of Omaha budget surplus has grown to more than $7 million dollars in the 3rd quarter.

The S & P rating remains at AA+, one step below the AAA rating.  Moody’s  reaffirmed Omaha’s Aa2 rating.  Both are strong investment grade ratings. The ratings companies credit a strong local economy, annexation, growth in the tax base, and strong budget  management and financial policies. 

The City receives excellent interest rates on bond sales with the current high ratings. 

Both companies remain concerned about unfunded pension liabilities, and indicate additional pension reforms could led to a higher bond rating.

“The unfunded pension remains the barrier to a AAA bond rating.  We will continue to work with our labor unions to negotiate solutions that are fair to our employees and the taxpayers,” said Mayor Jean Stothert.

Mayor Stothert, Finance Director Steve Curtiss, City Attorney Paul Kratz, Finance Administrator Al Herink and Chief of Staff Marty Bilek met with representatives of Moody and S & P in Chicago on November 8.

The 2019 third quarter budget report also released today, shows total revenue is $622,118 over budget projections and expenses are $2.9 million under budget.  The anticipated surplus also includes a potential savings of $3.7 million in health care costs.  The City Charter requires the surplus to be carried over to the 2021 budget year. 

“An end of year surplus is always important to give us a head start on the next budget year,” said Mayor Stothert. “A surplus in 2019  will be very important as we plan the 2021 budget, the increased costs of the next solid waste collection contract and anticipated increases to provide curbside recycling.”

The third quarter expense projection shows:

  • Omaha Police Department - $557,862 million over budget

(now in the 4th quarter, OPD projects to be at budget by end of year)  

  • Planning Department - $614,331 under budget
  • Public Works - $358,364 under budget
  • Finance-$398,742 under budget
  • Human Resources-$289,525 under budget
  • Law Department - $125,222 under budget
  • Omaha Fire Department - $37,383 under budget
  • Debt Service-appx $4 million over budget *

The 3rd Quarter revenue projection shows:

  • Motor Vehicle Taxes-$ 1.1 million surplus
  • City Sales and Use Tax-$4.1 million under projection
  • Restaurant and Tobacco Taxes - $0.4 million surplus
  • Building licenses and permits - $52,884 surplus
  • Other revenue – appx $4 million over budget*

*Debt service and other revenue both exceed budget due to the accounting change from the sale

of the Hilton Hotel to Freestone Capital. This is not new spending and the taxpayers have no additional financial obligations. 

Sales tax refunds continue to exceed budget projections. LB 775, the Employment and Investment Growth Act and LB 312, the Nebraska Advantage Act, require cities to pay sales tax refunds to qualifying businesses.  The tax incentive programs are offered to businesses to expand and/or increase employment. 2019 refunds are $5.4 million more than expected.

The 2019 fiscal year ends December 31, 2019.

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