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August 11, 2011


City: Wheel taxes won’t go to Antelope Valley anymore

by Deena Winter

A few years ago, I followed the money flowing into the Antelope Valley Creek to create Lincoln’s Antelope Valley Project, and was surprised to see how much wheel tax revenue was being diverted to the massive public works spectacle in downtown Lincoln.

That was never part of the original plan, but it appeared as though the city was looking everywhere it could for funds to pay for the $246 million project — whose original price tag was advertised at $175 million (although there was a tiny footnote that said * in 1999 dollars).

Local taxpayers were told they’d only have to kick in about $35 million for the project — but by 2008 we’d already spent $68 million. The city got more federal money than expected, but less state money than projected.

And so they turned to the so-called wheel tax and since 1995 the city has spent $28.6 million in wheel tax dollars on Antelope Valley, according to figures recently compiled by the city. I believe that’s part of the reason Lincoln’s roads have deteriorated quickly in recent years — that money could have toward maintaining roads, but instead it was used to build massive new roads in Antelope Valley.

However, the city employee who pulled those figures together for me added, “No other wheel tax dollars will be spent on the AV project.” I’d say that’s probably because Mayor Chris Beutler is instituting a wheel tax increase, and the last time the city increased the tax, city officials reneged on promises to use the money to widen Old Cheney Road from 70th to 84th streets, 56th Street from Old Cheney Road to Pine Lake Road and Pine Lake from 56th to Nebraska 2.

Guess what year the wheel tax was increased? 1995. Guess where $28 million in wheel tax dollars have gone since 1995? Antelope Valley.

I haven’t heard any specific promises being made about how the additional wheel tax money will be used this time around. Maybe somebody learned a lesson about making promises at city hall.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Roberta
    Aug 11 2011

    A Rocket scientists says it will go to the Arena

    • jenny
      Aug 11 2011

      No doubt!!

    • ej
      Aug 11 2011

      So Arenos now think they’re rocket scientists?

  2. Buzz
    Aug 11 2011

    You’re right on Roberta — that’s where all monies eventually go today. Our city council thinks the Haymarket and the University of Nebraska comprise all of Lincoln. Those two entities have top priority for everything. The council seems to forget about the areas they are supposed to represent, like College View, University Place, Havelock, Bethany, etc. Mr. Emory is supposed to represent Northeast Lincoln (of which he does a poor job); however, he seems to fall asleep at the the city council meetings until one of the speakers wakes him up.

  3. Jane H Kinsey
    Aug 11 2011

    Watchdogs of Lincoln Government will be letting residents know about this behind the scenes
    trickery of City Hall as well of the fact that the Feds are investigating the irregularities that Tom Foley found. Wake up, People,the city is going to hell in a hand basket.

    • jim
      Aug 13 2011

      YES, shady things have been going on.

  4. Three fingered willie
    Aug 11 2011

    Reminds me of another “promise” Lincoln made to the taxpayers back in the 80’s. If you recall, the city was pushing plans to buy up a significant amount of land downtown (through eminent domain, of course) to build a regional shopping mall. Grand plans were presented, public meetings were held to sell a $12 million bond issue that was to be used for this express purpose, or so the city fathers told us. Turns out that the shopping mall never materialized. All that happened was that those old buildings on Block 35, which to the “behind the scenes power brokers” in this town (think the old ‘O’ Street Gang and their modern counterpart, the 2015 Vision Group) were an eye sore housing affordable housing for mostly UNL students, Dirt Cheap Records, and Arturos was torn down and in its place a hard surface parking lot was created, only to go away when the city made its disastrous deal with Hammond to build the Embassy suites and turn ‘P’ street into a two-way. After all was said and done, where the rest of the $12 million for the “shopping mall” went is anybody’s guess.

  5. Betty Lee
    Aug 20 2011

    Wheel taxes won’t go to antelope valley anymore, because we need it for the arena now!


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