City Government Keeps Lincoln Moving Forward

The city of Lincoln is one of the best run cities in America. That’s according to the financial website 24/7 Wall St., which ranked Nebraska’s capital city as the fifth best run city in the nation, citing Lincoln’s low unemployment and city government’s excellent credit rating. With the new Pinnacle Bank Arena rising above the skyline, it’s an exciting time to live and work in Lincoln. Other national rankings tell a great story about the city’s business climate and quality of life:

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 Office. The Citizen Information Center is the communications link between city government and the public. The eight-county Aging Partners provides information and referral services for older adults and their families. 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 the recruitment, testing and selection of job applicants as well as training, employee and labor relations, compensation and benefits, workers’ compensation, 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 and the Human Rights Commission. Both handle complaints alleging discrimination and conducts outreach programs.

• Finance handles city funds and investments, prepares city bond issues and helps develop the city’s annual budget. The department also includes the Information Services Division, Purchasing, Accounting and the City Clerk.

• 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 every day. In addition to eight locations throughout the city, the website (lincolnlibraries.org) links your home or office to 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, gardens and open spaces; about 85 playgrounds; 128 miles of trails; more than 120,000 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.

By Diane Gonzolas

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