Street maintenance and potholes was a major subject of debate between City Councilwoman Jean Stothert and Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle.
The two debated a variety of issues at the Omaha Press Club Debate last Friday.
Stothert said she has been the chair of the public works committee for the past four years and street repair and road maintenance is something the entire city council is concerned about.
Stothert said one of the most common complaints she hears from people is how their streets are not in good condition.
“I think when people pay taxes, they feel that road maintenance is something that is primary and basic to what government should be providing. We need to re-prioritize and make sure we have extra dollars into the public works budget for street repair and road maintenance.”
Mayor Suttle said there have been fewer complaints about potholes and snow removal due to some changes his administration has made, which included stepping up the amount of street resurfacing from 25 to 91 miles a year.
He said one way increase funds to pay for resurfacing would be to take the 12 million dollars that was being diverted from the gas tax account to pay the OPPD electric bill, and putting that money back into street maintenance and asphalt lay down.
“We’re working now to restore that transition back to the general fund. It’s going to take 3-4 years to do that so we can get additional dollars back to the street resurfacing. But I think we can being next year to reestablish a neighborhood rehabilitation program for streets.”
Stothert said the best way to put more money toward street repair and maintenance is to modernize and reform city government. She said the city also needed to get a hold on labor union contracts.
The city budgeted 26 million for street maintenance this year and that includes 3.7 million for major street resurfacing. The Omaha General Election is May 14th.