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Lincoln Chamber of Commerce City Council Candidate Questionnaire: Tom Duden

As a member of the Lincoln City Council, it will be your responsibility to prioritize spending local tax dollars. If elected, what would be your top three priorities for Lincoln?

  1. Staffing our Law Enforcement Agency to a level that allows them to impact the rise in crime, return to community-based policing, and reduce the recent rise in violence. Along with that, I want to improve their transparency by revealing crime statistics in a timely manner, not two years later. Provide press releases on violent incidents versus suppressing the truth.

  2. I want to examine tax revenue income versus the cost of planned infrastructure projects. I want to examine the most cost-effective methods used in resurfacing roadways and consult with experts to determine what is the most appropriate cost-effective method for repairing our deteriorating roadways. I want to extend roads into, through, and beyond development areas as part of a public-private partnership by creating SIDs (Sanitary Improvement Districts) bonds to increase the number of available lots which in turn should lower their cost, enabling young families the opportunity to build a home of their own.

  3. Currently, Impact Fees, building codes, and regulations are adding to the cost of a new home. Builders have conveyed to me that obtaining a building permit takes 30-45 days and it doesn’t matter if they have been using the same plan that they have used multiple times. Regulations in Lincoln, I’m told, exceed standardized guidelines requiring home buyers to purchase upgrades mandated by the city. Homeowners should be able to make those decisions based on need or when they can afford them. Let’s make building a home in Lincoln one where the government works for the people.

Residential property owners in the City of Lincoln have faced double-digit increases in their property valuations and subsequently, higher property tax revenue for all taxing authorities.

Should the City of Lincoln adjust its levy to match previously budgeted revenues?

The city should not take advantage of recent rapid price increases (Windfall Property Tax), advantages resulting from rapid increases in property values that benefit the seller but not the buyer or neighboring homeowners. I will encourage an audit of existing departmental budgets and income sources. While the state has proposed property tax relief, I think the city needs to take a closer look at existing budgets, expenses, and assorted fees to see if we can afford relief to senior citizens and to decrease property taxes for all citizens.

Road, water, stormwater, wastewater, and technological infrastructure are the building blocks for business and residential growth in Lincoln. The State of Nebraska allows cities the authority to expand their local option sales tax by an additional one-half-percent – so long as the dollars are earmarked for “infrastructure projects”. This is what Lincoln has done only at the ¼ percent level, and it has helped our community invest in streets. Do you support or oppose renewing the local option sales tax rate that funds street infrastructure projects for Lincoln?

There are assertions in the statement for this question that I am suspect to. What data exists that, “the ¼ percent level has helped our community invest in streets?” I think before I respond to this question that an audit should be performed to see where the money went. And I mean every dime. The mayor has made all kinds of claims while running for re-election. She has claimed that she has added police officers every year yet the actual numbers are to the contrary. She has claimed she has spent 211 million on roads but I am just not seeing the improvements or believing her at all. How can anyone, realistically, answer this question without reviewing the data? I would want to know what projects were paid for using this increase in taxation. When the administration lies and conceals facts from the public how can anyone believe that the, “¼ increase level, has helped our community invest in streets.” When the number of police officers is less now than when the current administration took office and no one questions that fact, it’s difficult to answer your question in light of the falsehoods. I have a hard time believing anything the administration says or reports. Under the current administration, the police department conceals the annual crime statistics from the public. The annual report for 2021 was posted after March 29, 2023, and 2022 is still missing. Why are we hiding this report?

I can not honestly answer this question until I have the time and the correct information from reliable sources to examine the matter in detail. From my law enforcement experience when deception is used on one issue, I have a hard time deciphering the truth from the lies of others.

The Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development operates as a public/private partnership between the City of Lincoln and the business community. The Partnership has been directly responsible for the growing national attention regarding the positive business climate in Lincoln. Do you support maintaining or even growing the Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development and its public/private efforts to grow Lincoln’s economy?

I would support and encourage the continued efforts to grow Lincoln’s economy. The city should take the lead in promoting growth because, in the end, the quality of life improves for all of us. Part of this equation should also involve Lincoln’s educational institutions so that we can prepare and train a workforce that supports technology, pharmaceutical pathways, agriculture, construction trades, and energy career paths. This should be a collaborative effort involving multiple stakeholders.

Talent attraction and retention are a key component in determining Lincoln’s success over the next decade as employers look to fill positions in a rapidly expanding workforce. How can the City of Lincoln help attract and retain a vibrant and talented workforce?

Lincoln and the Chamber of Commerce should develop a strong human resource recruiting business and talent partnership that is supported by businesses and the city. A recruiting coordinator should be utilized to learn what programs and grants are available such as this one:

A recruiter should be able to look at the curriculum of various two-year and four-year higher learning institutions in order to match them with employers that are hiring candidates based on their needs which are found comparable to course content and degree program metrics. I learned by finding schools that taught C and C++ programming languages versus Java, that they could hit the ground running, requiring less training when they were employed by Design Data. Often the degree and the education don’t tell the story about a candidate’s potential. One must look deeper into the quality of the education as well as the capabilities of the candidate. Examining grants that support employers’ needs and match with various industries is another avenue worth exploring. Devoting more time and energy to the recruiting process helps acquire quality personnel. So assisting in the training of recruiters would also help Lincoln’s business community.


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