State budget-balancing puts strain on Nebraska cities
March 7, 2011

Between them, Omaha and Lincoln are set to lose a total of $5.1 million in state aid due to a bill to cut state aid to cities by $22 million. It's an effort to balance Nebraska's state budget, but the cities naturally resent the loss of funding. Funding is, perhaps, the most important factor in deciding whether municipal projects of any type move forward -- even more important, in many cases, than the laws and regulations that are supposed to compel those projects in the first place. Finding sustainable, consumer-friendly ways of funding not only the operating costs of many utilities, but also the maintenance and upkeep of their expansive infrastructures, is a major challenge. Nobody ever seems to be rewarded -- at the ballot box or elsewhere -- for taking prudent steps to maintain what a community already has. There are no ribbon-cuttings for sewer line replacement projects. A well-maintained system of infrastructure is at its best when it is virtually invisible, since that means it's working without anyone noticing that it's gone. That, unfortunately, is difficult stuff to convince people to pay for.

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last revised March 2011