Lincoln Considers Highway Allocation Bonds to Avoid Library, Other Cuts Due to Budget Shortfall

July 10, 2020, 5:30 p.m. ·

A branch of the Lincoln City Library (Becca Costello, NET News)

The City of Lincoln may make up part of its budget shortfall through highway allocation bonding. The plan would authorize $25 million in bonds to fund street and transportation improvements.

The city receives gas tax revenue from the state each year which the city can borrow against in the form of bonds.

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird announced the proposal Friday, saying that low interest rates and high construction inflation make this a good time for highway allocation bonding.

"In normal budget years, these reasons alone would be good enough to go forward with it," Gaylor Baird said."Yet this proposal also creates an additional budget opportunity specific to this difficult pandemic budget year."

The money could only be used for street and transportation purposes, but that would free up general fund money to be used to fund areas which had been cut in the initial budget draft. Those items include full library hours and sidewalk and park improvements.

The initial budget draft cut city library hours by one day a week. City Council Member James Michael Bowers fought against the library cut. He says he grew up going to the Anderson Branch library after school.

"And it really provided a safe place for me to not only go after school," Bowers said. "But a place for me to have supportive adults that helped be good role models, provided a safe environment for me to be and also provided an area where I can do homework and where I can have help in order to make good decisions."

The City Council will vote on the budget proposal after public comment in August.