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6
Jul

Beutler’s true colors coming through

With each passing day, it seems Mayor Chris Beutler’s true colors are shining through more than ever before in his time as Lincoln mayor.

Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler

The latest example: The draft 2040 Comprehensive Plan — which is like a 30-year master plan for transportation in Lincoln. As reported in the LJS, as it is now, the plan does not make mention of a south or east beltway. This is significant because those are huge pet projects of the Chamber of Commerce and LIBA — two groups that have been pretty darn supportive of Beutler.

Apparently, the feds have changed the rules so that Lincoln planners must be realistic about the amount of money they’ll be able to spend on transportation — and that means getting real about projects like the hugely expensive beltways.

How will LIBA and the chamber feel about the fact that this mayor doesn’t believe those beltways will get built in the next 30 years?

The draft comp plan also ratchets down spending on new road projects in favor of spending in the core of the city. This is a big issue at city hall: Neighborhood groups generally prefer to spend more on the existing city, while developers prefer to spend more on the fringes, to encourage more development. Beutler’s planning department is leaning toward the built environment with this draft.

What will developers think about that?

This comes on the heels of budget surveys that strongly indicate the mayor is looking at cutting funds for economic development — which of course are very important to the chamber and LIBA. The Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development — which is run by the chamber — gets about a half million dollars from the city annually, as it is now. That appears to be on the mayor’s chopping block.

What will the chamber and LIBA think about that?

And of course, what’s about to become the biggest issue in Lincoln is the property tax increase that I fully expect Mayor Beutler to propose next week, when his budget is unveiled. I don’t need to explain how the parties generally look at tax increases.

What’s interesting to me is that Beutler enjoys pretty good support from LIBA (they endorsed him for mayor), the chamber, and even some developers, and yet his policies would seem to fly in their face. Of course, the Republicans couldn’t find a strong opponent to take him on this year, so that certainly explains a lot. But it doesn’t explain how Beutler beat Republican Ken Svoboda four years prior to that.

Should be fun to watch how this all plays out in the next few years, huh?

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