City Government Keeps Moving Forward by Diane Gonzolas
With the new Pinnacle Bank Arena up and running and the other developments being completed in the West Haymarket, there’s never been a more exciting time to live and work in Lincoln. With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, a low crime rate and excellent schools, it’s no wonder that Lincoln is now the happiest city in the nation! That rating came from Gallup’s Healthways Well-Being Index, which looks at such factors as physical and emotional health and work environment.
In the historic core of the City, you’ll new roadways and bridges and the beautiful new Union Plaza with its waterway and community gathering spots. These new features are the result of the Antelope Valley Project, a flood control, transportation improvement and neighborhood revitalization project that earned Lincoln a Crown Community designation from American City and County Magazine.
To top it all off, Lincoln remains one of the best run cities in America. The financial website 24/7 Wall St. ranked Nebraska’s Capital City as the fourth best run city in the nation, up from fifth place a year earlier.
Mayor Chris Beutler, re-elected to a second term in May 2011, is the chief executive officer and administrative head of city government. Voters also elect a seven-member City Council and a five-member Lancaster County Commission.
City Government Departments
Several local government offices operate as divisions of the Mayor’s Office. The Citizen Information Center is the communications link between city government and the public. Aging Partners, an area agency on aging, provides information and referral services and much more to older adults and their families in an eight-county area in southeast Nebraska. The Mayor’s staff includes an Economic Development Coordinator and an Ombudsman, who works to address constituent concerns and investigates discrimination complaints against departments of city government. Special initiatives of the Mayor’s Office include Cleaner Greener Lincoln and Stronger Safer Neighborhoods.
The Development Services Center (DSC) is a one-stop shop for the review, permitting and inspection of projects. The DSC is a collaboration of five departments: Building and Safety, Health, Planning, Public Works and Utilities and Urban Development.
Three city departments operate jointly with Lancaster County. The Health Department provides leadership in protecting and promoting environmental and personal health. The Personnel Department is responsible for all human resource functions, including the recruitment, testing and selection of job applicants as well as training, employee and labor relations, compensation and benefits, workers’ comp, risk, safety, liability and administering the Police and Fire Pension plan. The Planning Department reviews land development proposals and prepares plans for land use, transportation, utilities and other community facilities to meet future growth needs.
Other City Departments
• Building and Safety inspects new construction and existing buildings to make sure they meet regulations concerning the health, fire and safety needs of the public.
• The City Attorney’s Office provides legal advice to the Mayor, City Council and city boards and departments; initiates and defends legal actions; and prosecutes misdemeanor offenses. The office includes the Director of Equity and Diversity (who also reports directly to the Mayor) and the Human Rights Commission. Both handle complaints alleging discrimination and conduct outreach programs.
• Finance handles city funds and investments, prepares city bond issues and helps develop the city’s annual budget. The Department includes Accounting and the City Clerk as well as two divisions that also serve Lancaster County – Information Services and Purchasing.
• Lincoln Fire and Rescue is nationally accredited and provides emergency response to fires, vehicle crashes and medical emergencies and emergency ambulance transportation; delivers fire safety education; promotes fire prevention to local residents and businesses; and participates in the FEMA national disaster response system for Urban Search and Rescue.
• Lincoln City Libraries provides open access to all forms of information to enrich people’s lives. The system includes eight libraries throughout the city and the Lied Bookmobile, which also serves towns in Lancaster County. At lincolnlibraries.org, you’ll find books for e-readers, resources on topics such as genealogy and car repair, tutoring services and the library catalog. Unique highlights include a collection of works by Nebraska authors, the Polley Music Library and free community meeting rooms.
• Parks and Recreation operates and maintains more than 127 parks, public gardens and open spaces; about 85 playgrounds; 128 miles of trails; more than 125,000 public trees along streets and in parks; six recreation centers; five golf courses; nine outdoor swimming pools; a nature center; an observatory; and many athletic facilities.
• The Lincoln Police Department is nationally accredited and uses community-based team policing, forming partnerships with neighborhoods to handle crime, disorder, social problems and other issues.
• Public Works and Utilities provides drinking water, wastewater treatment, landfills, recycling operations, snow removal, street improvements, traffic operations, storm sewers and watershed management and operates StarTran, the city bus system.
• Urban Development works to revitalize and maintain low-income areas by coordinating existing resources, providing housing rehabilitation services, developing leadership and creating economic and employment opportunities.
Get the latest information on City government:
5 CITY-TV and 10 Health TV
(government access cable channels 5 and 10)