Biennial budget amendment information October 28th, 2010
On November 2, voters will be asked to make a decision regarding a charter amendment which would allow the city council to change to a two-year budget cycle.
Shall Article IX of the Charter of the City of Lincoln be amended by adding a new section 26a to allow the city to establish and adopt a biennial budget?
[This is an informational article about the proposed charter amendment and is not intended to support or oppose the amendment.]
The charter amendment is a recommendation of Mayor Chris Beutler and has been approved unanimously by the City Council. The City’s Charter Revision Commission, a group of Lincoln citizens, reviewed the charter amendment and recommended its passage to their fellow residents. Biennial budgeting is not a new concept. The State of Nebraska and governments across the nation use biennial budgeting.
City employees currently spend an estimated 18,000 hours per year working on budget issues. Mayor Beutler says changing to the biennial budget could save about 10,000 hours in city staff time during the mid-cycle year. He believes that this time can be used for creating longterm change, change that creates efficiencies and saves tax dollars.
I interviewed two of the city employees experienced in the city budget process to gain insight into the possible effects of the proposed change.
Steve Hubka, the city budget officer, commented that entering the annual budget process immediately after taking office is a very steep learning curve for an incoming mayor. A new mayor begins his term in May and must present his budget to the city council in June. The two-year process, if timed to fall after the year a mayor takes office, would allow them much more time to understand the process and prepare. Hubka does point out that if the budget had been an issue in the election, it would take longer before the mayor could fully act on his campaign pledges.
Dan Murray, budget officer for Lincoln Parks and Recreation, says a biennial budget discussion has been mentioned in years past, and initially he was not in favor of the process. But after considering all the benefits as well as the drawbacks, he has come to feel that the process would be beneficial to the city and that it would save tax dollars. He also mentions the coordination between outgoing and incoming mayors with only one month available to the new mayor to finish preparation on a budget as a drawback to the current system.
When asked what benefits do you see to the city, Hubka mentions the time saved in the off budget year, the mayor’s office having more time to focus on other important issues, and city employees having the ability to do longer range planning, both personally and professionally. Murray comments that tax dollars have been saved over the past few years as staff has been cutback. This has impacted available time and the hours saved by the biennial budget would be extremely helpful.
What if revenue falls below expectations during the two year cycle?
Making adjustments during the budget period when times are tough can be difficult. But Hubka says there will be a mechanism to make adjustments since some change is inevitable. He adds that the city has been very good at budget projections averaging 99.3 percent accuracy of the actual revenue over the past seven years. He accounts this in part to the more stable income sources for the city as compared to the state (30 percent of the city tax revenue comes from the stable property tax.) and to the fact that 70% of the budget is labor costs. If the city is able to negotiate two-year contracts with employees, this large portion of the budget would be very stable during the 2 year period.
We close gaps each year with the next year’s budget process, Hubka says. With a two-year process the key is the method for adjustments. The mayor already has the ability to cut spending authority when revenues fall below projections. Murray adds that in his experience, dealing with shortfalls has been easier when there is more time left in a budget cycle and gives this example. The July ’93 tornado hit just before the end of the fiscal year in August and was an extremely difficult adjustment for his department to make. The October ’95 snowfall which fell 10 months before the end of the cycle enabled the department to adjust plans and absorb the unexpected expense over the remaining fiscal year.
Thank you for taking time to review information about this amendment.
Please vote on November 2. A sample ballot can be viewed at http://lancaster.ne.gov/election/sampleGN10.pdfThis information was compiled by Marcia Murray, Woods Bros Realty. The sources for this article are listed below, and it is accurate to the best of her knowledge. Lincoln Journal Star, October 25, 2010 Interviews with:
- Steve Hubka, City Budget Officer
- Dan Murray, Lincoln Parks and Recreation Budget Officer
Posted by Marcia Murray
Wendy Francis, Deb Wagner, John Davis and Jon Rademacher of Woods Bros Realty recently completed a highly specialized course in customer service referral-based business conducted by the Council of Residential Specialists of the National Association of REALTORS®.
This course is one in a series of professional education sequenced required to qualify for the coveted Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) designation.
The course covered the implementation of specific ideas to add value to and ensure the delivery of exceptional customer service both during and after the buying and/or selling of a home.
During the two-day course, students were subject to hands-on development of plans and programs designed to ensure the professionalism of the residential sales associates.
The Council of Residential Specialists Courses are presented throughout the United States in affiliation with the National Association of REALTORS®, as part of its ongoing program of promoting the professionalism of the residential sales associate.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Congratulations to the September Award Winners October 25th, 2010
September 2010 by Volume:
September 2010 by Units:
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Nebraska Economic Development briefing Dec. 2 October 20th, 2010
All homeowners and all Nebraskans might well be interested in the Dec. 2 briefing by the The Nebraska Department of Economic Development held at the State Capitol. Housing will be one of many topics discussed and it should be an excellent opportunity to hear about what is happening across the state. It will be an opportunity as well to meet with and make comments to key Nebraska leadership. Reservations are required. For more details check the link that follows.
Posted by Marcia Murray
Woods Bros Realty welcomes Tammy Peter October 19th, 2010
We would like to welcome Tammy Peter to the Woods Bros family.
Tammy grew up in Grand Island, the youngest of four siblings. She has been married to Paul J. Peter, an attorney with Keating O’Gara Law firm for the past 26 years and has two grown children: Jenny, a junior at Stanford University who is on the Stanford gymnastics team, and Michael, who is a financial analyst with Burlington Financial Group in Omaha and is excited about his upcoming marriage on Nov. 27.
Tammy enjoys walking and gardening and remodeling houses.
Tammy will work out of the Woods Bros SouthPointe office and can be reached at: 402-499-0779 or Tammy.Peter@WoodsBros.com.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Woods Bros Realtors, affiliate honored by local association October 15th, 2010
Judy Sasek was inaugurated as president of the Realtors Association of Lincoln (RAL) Oct. 12, Doug Vandervort was named Realtor of the Year, and Londi Rutan of Nebraska Land Title and Abstract (NLTA) was named Affiliate of the Year.
Sasek is the managing broker of the Woods Bros Realty SouthPointe office. She earned her real estate license in 1990 and her Broker’s license in 2000.
“I look forward to my term as our association’s board president,” Sasek said. “The mission of our Realtors Association of Lincoln is to serve its members by providing programs and services to enhance members’ opportunity and ability to conduct their business successfully, with integrity and competence. The Association advocates and promotes the preservation of the fundamental right to own, transfer, and use real property.”
Sasek is a past president of the local chapter of the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR), and holds her Council of Real Estate Managers and Brokers (CRB) and Graduate, Realtors Institute (GRI) designations. She received the RAL Realtor of the Year award in 2009, the RAL Outstanding Service Award in 2004 and the President’s Achievement Award in 2003. She has served on numerous RAL committees and has volunteered her time with many community projects. She has been on the RAL Board of Directors for nine years. She is also active in the Nebraska Realtors Association serving on the Professional Standards Committee the past six years, the board of governors for GRI, and is now serving as chair for the Grievance Committee.
The Realtor of the Year award is given to a full-time Lincoln Realtor in recognition of his or her professionalism and outstanding service. Selection is based on organized real estate activity; business conduct and experience; and civic and volunteer activity.
Vandervort, a Realtor with the Woods Bros Realty SouthPointe office, is no stranger to Realtor of the Year awards. He was named Woods Bros Realtor of the Year in 2006. He has been serving the Lincoln real estate community since 1994 and is involved in numerous committees at the state and local level, particularly with the Realtors Political Action Committee (RPAC). He also teaches real estate courses on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), Fair Housing and Ethics for RAL, and is very committed to his faith, family and the community.
The Affiliate of the Year award is given to an affiliate member of RAL in recognition of his or her professionalism and outstanding service. Selection is based on organized real estate activity; business conduct and experience; and civic and volunteer activity.
Rutan has dedicated her career to the real estate industry for more than 35 years, currently as the Closing Department Manager for NLTA (formerly Capitol Title). She is active in RAL and the Women’s Council of Realtors (WCR). She has continuously served on the Social and Community Relations committees for RAL, participating in the Salvation Army Bell Ringing, Paint-A-Thons, Make a Difference Days, Meals on Wheels, RAL golf and bowling events and the RAL booth at the Home and Garden Show.
Woods Bros Realty, an affiliate of HomeServices of America, is a full-service company offering over 120 years of expertise in real estate as well as experience in mortgage, title, closing, and insurance services. Providing an easier way to buy and sell, nearly 300 sales associates work with clients in Lincoln, Seward, Beatrice, York, Grand Island, and southeast and northeast Nebraska. For more information about Woods Bros Realty, visit www.WoodsBros.com.
Nebraska Land Title and Abstract, formerly Capitol Title, has been serving the areas of Lincoln, Beatrice, Seward, Omaha and Wahoo since the 1980s. NLTA is a wholly owned subsidiary of HomeServices of America, the largest brokerage-owned settlement services (mortgage, title, escrow and insurance) provider in the United States.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Foreclosure freeze a big deal October 14th, 2010
This week Bank of America announced that it’s stopping all foreclosure sales for the next 30 days. During that time they’ll review the foreclosure process to ensure that their procedures are correct.
Three other banks (PNC Financial, GMAC Mortgage and JP Morgan Chase) have also announced a 30-day moratorium.
Why the freeze? Evidence is mounting that, over the course of the last several years, some homeowners may have been improperly kicked out of their homes. There are a lot of questions about the banks’ procedures, and they’re worried about lawsuits from former owners who feel they may still have a claim to their home – even if it’s already been sold to someone else!
As you probably know, the number of foreclosure properties has risen dramatically in the last couple of years, and banks have struggled to keep up. Turns out that foreclosure papers may have been simply ‘rubber-stamped,’ and not actually reviewed by a real person. If that’s the case, you know that mistakes were bound to happen.
My gut tells me this could be a huge story for a couple of reasons. If it’s discovered that owners lost their homes because the bank acted improperly, you can imagine the lawsuits that will follow. It’s also important to note that, while the bank may not be processing any more foreclosures for the next 30 days, there are still owners struggling to make payments. Some of those owners are abandoning their homes, so the number of houses that will eventually be foreclosures will continue to rise. Picture a pipeline, with more and more properties being stuffed into it. That’s going to create a huge backlog, and at some point that backlog will need to be released.
When that release comes, cities will see a fresh wave of foreclosure houses on the market. Generally speaking, that’s not good for current homeowners, because the sale of the repossessed houses tends to drag down the property values surrounding it.
The banks’ decisions also pose a question to transactions currently in progress – what happens if the bank can’t guarantee clear title? What if the bank won’t sell the property until they determine that their processes were correct? What if their processes weren’t correct? Buyers hoping to close on their new house in the next 30 days might be forced to wait … and they could end up waiting a long time. (Banks tend to work very slowly – I’ve worked with banks before, so I know from experience!)
This story is just beginning to unfold, but I think it’s going to become a big deal.
Posted by Jon Rademacher
What makes us American? October 11th, 2010
Baseball and apple pie are on that list. So is home ownership. It is certainly one thing that makes our life in America unique and fulfilling. And it makes us better. Surveys have left no doubt that home ownership is of benefit to the home owner, to families, and to the neighborhood as well.
But there is something else that makes us American. It’s far more available to us than even home ownership. It cost this nation and the people who founded it dearly. Many lives have been lost to retain it. Though not totally unique in the world, there are countless people with no such opportunity and no hope of seeing it in their lifetime.
Yet with all its value, sadly many of our citizens fail to take advantage of this precious gift. In one short month, another opportunity to exercise this right will be upon us, and I encourage everyone to get out and vote this November. Our welfare, and the welfare of every generation that will follow us depend on our caring enough to exercise this most precious of our freedoms and most important of our responsibilites.
Please, on November 2 (or before) take time to vote!
Gale reminds citizens of deadlines for November election
LINCOLN – Secretary of State John Gale outlined deadlines regarding voter registration and early voting for the Nov. 2 Nebraska general election.
Early voting for the election starts Sept. 27 by mail or in person at county election offices. Any registered voter can cast an early-voting ballot.
Gale listed the following deadlines for the November election:
–Mail-in voter registrations must be postmarked by Oct. 15. Registrations close at motor vehicle offices and state agencies on Oct. 15.
–In-person voter registration at county election offices ends at 6 p.m. Oct. 22. This includes registration changes such as updating an address.
–Registered voters can make requests until 4 p.m. Oct. 27 for early-voting ballots to be mailed. Nov. 1 is the deadline for in-person early voting at county election offices. The close of polls on Nov. 2 is the deadline for the return of early-voting ballots, including ballots returned by mail.
Gale urged eligible Nebraskans who aren’t registered voters to take the time to register.
“Voting in Nebraska is a very user-friendly process,” he said. “All you have to do is take the time to study a sample ballot and vote.
“It’s as easy as buying a cup of coffee at your neighborhood coffee shop.”
Gale reminded people to update their voter registration if they have moved within a county or submit a new registration if they have moved from one county to another.
People with questions can call their county election office or the Secretary of State’s Office toll free at (888) 727-0007.
—According to Secretary of State press release: http://www.sos.state.ne.us/admin/press_releases/Voter%20Deadlines%20Nov%20%202010.pdf
Posted by Marcia Murray
September by the Numbers October 11th, 2010
Here are the September numbers from all Woods Bros offices, including Lincoln, Seward, York, Beatrice and Grand Island:
- $31,254,775 Total Volume Sold
- 204 Total Sides Sold
- 194 Sides Placed Under Contract
- 478,305 Page Views on WoodsBros.com
- 47,811 User Sessions on WoodsBros.com
- 40 New Saved Searches on WoodsBros.com
- 960 New Saved Properties on WoodsBros.com
- 100 New Customers on WoodsBros.com
- 1,095 Visits to Facebook.com/WoodsBros
View our monthly Market Snapshot here.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Sebek to head up HomeServices Lending in Lincoln October 7th, 2010
Russ Sebek joins HomeServices Lending as Lincoln Branch Sales Manager.
Sebek has been in the finance industry since 1998, where he started as a credit manager with Norwest Financial, which later became Wells Fargo Financial. He was promoted in July 2000 to branch manager, where he remained until September of this year.
Originally from Wilber, Sebek graduated from Wilber-Clatonia High School. He went to on earn his degree in finance and economics from the University of Nebraska-Kearney, where he also played football. He is married with three children and resides in Lincoln.
Sebek will office out of the HomeServices of Nebraska Support Services office at 3355 Orwell in Lincoln. He can be reached at (402) 441-3204, or Russ.Sebek@HomeSvcLending.com.
About HomeServices Lending, LLC
HomeServices Lending, LLC is the full-service mortgage bank under HomeServices of America, Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate, and an affiliate of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. HomeServices Lending is dedicated to serving the lending needs of home buyers, real estate professionals, builders and developers throughout the U.S. The company provides hundreds of mortgage programs, and its mortgage consultants are dedicated to serving each client’s unique financing needs.
All first mortgage products are provided by Homeservices Lending, LLC Series A. Homeservices Lending, LLC Series A may not be available in your area. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage is a division of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. ©2010 Homeservices Lending, LLC Series A. All Rights Reserved. An Equal Housing Lender.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty
Lincoln No. 3 on the list of perfect spots for young families October 6th, 2010
By ERIN ANDERSEN / Lincoln Journal Star
A new survey by Parents magazine lists Lincoln as the third best city in the country to raise a baby.
What makes Lincoln great? Top cities were ones that combined affordable housing, safety, good neighbors, access to pediatricians and babysitters and plenty of baby swings at the park.
The first-ever survey by Parents found that Scottsdale, Az. was the best place for young families, followed by Fort Wayne, Ind., and then Lincoln.
Parents found that Lincoln is a breath of fresh air, literally. It was the only city in the survey not to exceed the ozone or particle pollution thresholds on any day in 2009. Healthy air adds up to a lower rate of childhood asthma, according to Parents.
The survey gave Lincoln the following grades:
Child care, A-
Family safety, B-
Fun for you and baby, A+
Infant health, B-
Money matters, B+
“Babies aren’t fussy about their zip code. But for moms and dads, their hometown during those important early years of parenthood can make a big difference in quality of life,” said Dana Points, editor in chief of Parents.
Other cities rounding out the top 10 are: Pittsburgh, Pa.; Portland, Ore.; Madison, Wisc.; Phoenix, Az.; St. Paul, Minn.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Boston, Mass.
Omaha ranked 12th overall.
The complete results of the survey, as well as a listing of cities ranked 11-100 appear in the November issue of Parents and online here.
For a slide show featuring all of Parents’ Ten Best cities click here.
To conduct the survey, Parents used U.S. Census information to assemble an initial list of the 100 most populated U.S. cities. Each city was then assessed using 35 predetermined factors pediatricians, child development experts and mommy bloggers said young families should consider when deciding where to live. The magazine then contacted government sources and non-profit organizations and conducted independent reporting to obtain the data for each city. The overall rankings represent how well the cities met the magazine’s family-friendly criteria.
Copyright Lincoln Journal Star. See original article here.
Posted by Woods Bros Realty