Mayoral Candidates Debate Issues at Press Club

Mar 25, 2013

Among the topics Brad Ashford, Dave Nabity, Jean Stothert, Jim Suttle and Dan Welch discussed were their respective plans to mediate the extra $50 a month homeowners may now have to pay to offset the increasing cost of the Sewer Separation Project.

Brad Ashford says the city has to slow the project down.

"I pledge, whether I am elected Mayor or not, that I will continue to work to address this problem.  This is a killer.  This is an absolute killer for our community and we must address it together.”

Mayor Jim Suttle said he wants to take a two year window, and during that time look at how to re-engineer the deep rock tunnel and get rid of it.

"It’s 42% of the cost.  We can certainly find a better way to zap the bacteria when we have our overflows in the river.  That’s what I am looking for and we will have more on that as we look at the next two years.”

Jean Stothert has been the Chairman of the Public Works Committee for the past four years.  She said the rate ordinance passed by the previous city council decided how and what customers were going to pay for the project.

Stothert calls the project an unfunded federal mandate.

"We had worked last year on trying to amend this ordinance to make it more flexible and affordable.  The cost is spread out amongst the industrial and commercial customers and it’s going to be more palatable.”

Dan Welch says $50 a month is too much and may lead people to leave the city.

"We absolutely have to go to Washington and ask for additional time to pay this off so that people that are paying the bill now that are on fixed incomes, will pass on and will share the cost with the younger people in the city as they get jobs.”

Dave Nabity says the Omaha Sewer Separation Project is a good example of why it’s important to have a business person leading the city. 

He says the city expected heavy water users to pay massive fees toward the project's cost, and that prevented some companies from locating here.

"It took the Chamber of Commerce getting an arbitrator to get the city to the table to negotiate something that was reasonable.  We shouldn’t have to do that if we’re trying to solve problems.”

The Omaha Mayoral Debate at the Press Club will air in its entirety on Friday, March 29th at Noon on KIOS.