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Council To Begin Budget Debate

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Council To Begin Budget Debate

By Josh Egbert. CREATED Aug 5, 2013

OMAHA, NE- A big day looms in Omaha city government. Budget hearings are set to begin Tuesday and city council members will be scrutinizing every one of your tax dollars with a red pen.

The hearing will have the council review all 400 pages of the budget and will get a chance to hear from the departments as well.

Tuesday's hearing will be the first time Chief Mike McDonnell will speak publicly on the 2014 budget.

Mayor Jean Stothert presented her proposed budget to city council members 2 weeks ago. Council members say they're ready for the discussions to begin.

"I just have some questions about the staffing levels and how much work we're putting on some of our departments, especially the police." says council member Ben Gray.

Council has had the opportunity to review the budget, but will now get the opportunity to hear from those who put the money to use.

"Now is the opportunity to talk to each department head and really get down to more detail about what they're seeing, what their experiencing, do we have enough demolition funding, is there a way to get more officers on the street more quickly things like that we can really drill down on." says council president Pete Festersen.

One discussion that's likely to be lengthy is the fire department, which has filed a lawsuit against the city over funding.

"To hear their perspective on NFPA standards and coverage throughout the city and if in fact they'd have to remove rigs from service from any potential area where would that be and what would that impact be." says Councilmen Festersen.

"We need to hear from both sides and try and make an intelligent decision as council members." says Councilmen Gray.

But it's not just the fire department's $90.6 million budget; council members have other concerns and questions regarding other departments as well.

"The few concerns I want to address with them mostly relate to manpower and if we're going to continue to be able to perform at a high level as a city." says Councilman Gray.

The budget discussion will start at 10 Tuesday morning in council chambers. The public is invited to attend.

KMTV Action 3 News will be at the hearing. We will bring you updates on KMTV Action 3 News at Midday and a full wrap up from inside the chamber at 5.