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Omaha city council is set to vote next week to support climate action project to start sooner than initially planned

OMAHA, Nebraska — If everything goes according to plan, the Mayor’s Office in Omaha stated on Friday that they should have a climate action consultant by the end of January or the beginning of February.

That would be around 14 months after the city council gave an indication of their support for a proposal in November of the previous year. Carrie Murphy, a spokesperson for the mayor, told 3 News Now on Friday that construction on the project got underway in July of 2021.

On the other hand, the city council is going to vote the next week on whether or not they support taking action sooner.

Within the resolution, their support is reaffirmed, and it is requested that the mayor initiate an immediate budget transfer ordinance in order to hire a consultant before the end of the year. According to the mayor’s office, putting money aside in the budget for this year that will be used the following year is “not allowed.”

The issue that will be on the agenda for the following week was proposed by City Council President Pete Festersen. On Friday, he was not available, but two weeks ago he informed us that he anticipated a significant amount of forward movement.

“At that point (in November), I believe they told us it would only be a few months, which we deemed acceptable at the time. Despite that, we were adamant that there be a sense of urgency surrounding it. Therefore, up until this point, it’s been a great deal of frustration, “he remarked.

Following the vote in favor of a climate plan by the city council in November, ongoing work shifted to focus on developing a strategy for the city itself rather than one for the area as a whole. The panel that is working on it is going to discuss whether or not to approve the most recent draft on September 21. Murphy stated that this would occur in the month of October if it were to occur.

According to Murphy, the hiring of a consultant might take place as soon as the end of January or the beginning of February, but this is contingent on the existing draft being accepted and the timeframe remaining unchanged.

In addition, public comment on the climate plan resolution will be taken during the meeting of the city council on Tuesday.

At the meeting on August 16, a speaker stated that the word “climate” does not exist anywhere in the budget for the year 2023 at this moment. “The climate action plan is not included, and that is something that stands out to me as being noticeably absent from this budget,” you said.

Two weeks ago, Festersen stated that the council is willing to fund the initiative as soon as it is feasible to do so.

Festersen stated that having a climate action plan is extremely vital for any city, and the majority of cities already have one.

The City of Omaha has provided the following comprehensive timetable of the effort that will go into developing a climate action plan. Work is now being done on a request for proposal, often known as an RFP. This is effectively a bid request for a consultant. The text that follows has been modified for readability.

In July of 2021, work began on the initial draft of a request for proposals (RFP) for a consultant. When that decision was being made, a regional climate action plan as well as a city strategy were both under consideration.

August of 2021 saw the completion of the first draft.

October 2021 saw the establishment of a Smart Cities advisory working group with the mission of examining and improving the draft.

The resolution to support the development of a climate action plan was approved by the city council by a vote of 6-1 in November of 2021.

The working group solicited feedback through early 2022. The feedback led to a recommendation that the plan be a city plan, rather than a regional plan. A new draft was written and members were again asked for feedback.

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