OMAHA, NE – Progressive Oasis Supports Jim Suttle for Mayor of Omaha! For one thing, he is the only candidate with any real mayoral experience, and that’s 4 years to be exact! With the long list of Mayor Suttle’s many accomplishments it is easy to see why anyone would want to support him for re-election. Suttle also recently mentioned that balancing Omaha’s budget is his legacy among all those accomplishments. Mayor Suttle and his administration’s policies have put Omaha on the map for a variety of great accomplishments recognized nationally.
City Services Online
Jim Suttle made a campaign promise to make more city services available online and now everything from building permits to library services and park operations are now available online. The Suttle administration also a special smart phone app which allows Omaha residents to report graffiti, potholes and other issues to the city, while also allowing people to track those reports online. The city budget is also now available online, allowing for more transparency to citizens. In fact, Omaha received national recognition for budget transparency for the first time ever in 2011 and then in 2012 with a Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Association of the US. In 2011, Mayor Suttle launched EngageOmaha.com, an interactive website developed in Omaha, now used by cities across the nation. The website empowers local taxpayers with unprecedented access and opportunities for more input on local government and key initiatives for improvement in the city.
Mayor Suttle signed the Equal Employment ordinance ensuring Omaha is a welcoming place for broader groups of people. He is also credited with convincing a key swing vote in the City Council to vote for the ordinance, which added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protections for workplace and public accommodation.
Strong Leadership in the Face of Flooding
Mayor Suttle provided extraordinary leadership for Omaha and provided a successful response to the Flood of 2011, saving the city and citizens billions of dollars. He established an emergency management team to address concerns and to coordinate efforts to address the threat of Missouri River flooding. Records from those meetings and the city’s efforts won praise from national officials. Even more important for city taxpayers, the quality of the Omaha’s response will now result in maximum level of FEMA and other reimbursements for the costs for flood damage and control efforts. Thanks to the Mayor’s quick actions and strong display of leadership, there was limited damage to public and private properties along the Missouri River. Major businesses did not face lost work days, airport and riverfront businesses stayed open during the duration of the flood threat, and major events near or at the Convention Center, like the College World Series, went on according to schedule. In November 2011, Mayor Suttle urged members of Congress to fund flood repairs along the Missouri River. In 2012, the US Army Corps of Engineers announced $15 million in repairs to Omaha’s levy.
Mayor Suttle saved millions of dollars in administrative costs by merging a system of 34 public employee and retiree health plans from 34 down to 3. His administration also implemented a citywide wellness program to further reduce healthcare costs.
Combined Sewer Overflow
The overhaul of Omaha’s sewer system mandated by the Federal Government is the largest public works project ever in Omaha. Mayor Suttle, an engineer, has implemented a design, construction and financial plan to address the project. He also helped establish a ratepayer’s agreement with MUD to help offset the increased costs the project might cause on low-income families. The Mayor’s leadership concerning the Combined Sewer overhaul has earned national recognition.
Community Development Planning
Mayor Suttle has secured over $100 million in grants to the City of Omaha to address needs such as crime prevention, job training, energy efficiency and transportation planning. Suttle re-structured the Omaha Housing Authority Board to focus on two priority areas, tenants service and financial responsibility. He also created a Parks Foundation to help support future projects for parks and recreation. Under Suttle’s leadership, Omaha is a growing sports destination, including the College World Series, US Olympic Swim Trials, and the US Figure Skating Championships. In September of 2011, Omaha was awarded Bronze level recognition as a Bicycle Friendly City from the league of American Bicyclists. In March 2012, Omaha was selected as one of eight US cities for the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge, awarding funds and services to promote growth, better delivery of services, more citizen engagement and improved efficiency.
Under Suttle’s administration, new ShotSpotter technology was implemented to electronically identify and instantly report gun shots. In 2011, Omaha Police seized 843 illegal guns. On March 2012, Suttle announced a task force to coordinate efforts to curb illegal firearms. He also targeted crime with new task forces addressing illegal guns, and problem landlords. Suttle also supports early intervention efforts including mentoring, after school programs and youth summer jobs.
Mayor Suttle took unprecedented steps to address the $600 million police and fire pension shortfall he inherited, ending the controversial practice of pension “spiking” (those close to retirement adding substantial overtime hours into the calculations for the pensions.) Negotiated major givebacks from city unions for the first time in decades and wage freezes from police and civilian employees that saved taxpayers $14 million over the years 2009 and 2010.
Mayor Suttle instituted performance-based budgeting for City government departments. In the Fire Department alone, this closed a $2.7 million gap to only $70,000 over budget in the first year of performance-based budgeting. Hired a city attorney to monitor and greatly reduce Police and Fire court overtime costs. Partnered with the State Auditor’s office to review and improve record keeping for public safety budgets. Restored the City of Omaha’s AAA bond rating. Because the City Council delayed approval of the Fire Contract and final resolution of the pension fund shortfalls, the City now has a split rating. One major rating agency still has the City at AAA, the other agency has us one step below the highest credit rating. Restructured debt for the city convention center and arena at lower interest rates. Completed the 150 room wing added to the city-owned convention hotel (Hilton) with a financial plan at no cost to taxpayers.
Omaha’s unemployment rating is currently at 3.7 percent, that’s less than half the national average. You can thank Mayor Suttle’s leadership for that! Mayor Suttle’s work with the business and labor community attract investors and creates new and better jobs for Omaha workers. In 2012 alone, hundreds of new and existing businesses created more than 12,000 new jobs in Omaha. Suttle implemented a new workforce development program in 2011 called Heartland Workforce Solutions. He also created the City’s Small and Emerging Business Program to help small businesses compete for City contracts.
Under Suttle’s leadership Omaha has been recognized by several media outlets as a top place for business and raising a family. I think Jim Suttle’s work as Mayor establishes him as a true leader for Omaha, no one else comes even close.