Future Lincoln mayors should disclose any public education costs associated with a ballot initiative to the City Council when the council is asked to put the measure up to voters, the council voted Monday.

The resolution was unanimously adopted by the council in response to the $190,000 in tax dollars the city spent to inform residents about the quarter-cent sales tax increase to help pay for street work.

Monday's resolution was written to amend an initial proposal from Councilwoman Cyndi Lamm, who criticized Mayor Chris Beutler's administration for using public money to tell people why they were being asked to vote on raising their taxes.

The term-limited mayor's move marked the first time the city used tax dollars for outside spending on such a campaign.

Previously, the city used staff to produce educational materials, and private groups raised money to campaign for or against an issue.

In March, Lamm, who is running for mayor, proposed a $20,000 limit on city spending for education on ballot issues without council approval.

She then delayed her resolution over concerns about its enforcement, and Councilman Carl Eskridge offered an alternative resolution requiring the mayor's office to disclose any educational campaign cost information to the council at the same time it's being asked to vote on putting the issue on the ballot. That proposal didn't cap city spending.

Eskridge's proposal also said any education materials paid for by the city should disclose who paid for it.

Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird commended Eskridge's resolution for accomplishing the same goal and providing the council and the public with more information up-front.

In the April 9 election, voters approved the new quarter-cent city sales tax, which is expected to raise about $13 million a year to be spent on streets.

It's set to take effect in October.

Resolutions are not binding, but act as guidelines or expressions of the opinion of the City Council.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2657 or rjohnson@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSRileyJohnson.


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