County government wants to go ‘virtual’ over next decade

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Posted: Saturday, July 20, 2013 12:00 am

In the coming years, Sarpy County intends to make significant strides toward reducing its dependence on property tax, developing a “virtual” county government by enhancing online services and building partnerships with other governmental bodies to cut service redundancies and costs.

County officials also plan to move toward making 180th Street a key north-south county road, building a new recreation area along the Platte River, ensuring that Offutt Air Force Base stays off any base closure lists and holding an annual “road summit” between city and county officials in order to prioritize road improvements.

These commitments, and many more, are part of the Sarpy County Government Strategic Plan for 2013-15 that was approved July 2 by Sarpy County Commissioners following a 4-0 vote with Commissioner Don Kelly absent.

The document was prepared by Marla Flentje, a senior consultant with Austin Peters Group out of Wichita, Kan., who drew up the report on the basis of workshops held with county leaders earlier this year.

Input was also received from leaders of all five Sarpy County cities, county employees and department leaders.

Scott Bovick, deputy county administrator, said Sarpy County intends to have laid the foundations for making significant strides by 2015 toward all the stated goals.

Realistically, he said, county leaders are looking at a 10-year window and probably more for the actual achievement of many of the stated objectives.

“We will revisit the plan every year and see if anything needs to be revised,” Bovick said. “Then there are always new people being elected to the County Board, and they might have other priorities.”

The report anticipates a population in excess of 200,000 within 10 years, the 2010 Census having placed Sarpy County’s population at 158,840.

Business parks catering to high-technology companies will be sought as well as a thriving retail scene as part of a policy of “smart, managed growth.”

Southern Sarpy County is a prime focus for development as the new bridge over the Missouri River approaches its spring 2014 completion date and a much greater number of vehicles is expected to be directed onto Platteview Road.

An expansion of Platteview Road to incorporate it into a highway “loop” around the metropolitan area, along with the development of 180th Street into a major north-south connector road, made it onto the plan.

Other commitments outlined in the plan include:

Ÿ Building a new recreation area along the Platte River.

Ÿ Encouraging elected officials from all Sarpy County cities to meet and discuss how they might help each other progress.

Ÿ Making it increasingly possible for residents to conduct county business online.

Ÿ Taking out purchase options on land that could be used for business developments.

Ÿ Reducing reliance on property taxes, in part by increasing county service fees and developing new service fees, and also by securing voter approval for a county sales tax.

Ÿ Holding an annual “road summit” where interested parties might provide input and guidance concerning road spending.

Ÿ Creating alternative programs to reduce incarceration in the Sarpy County Jail, which is approaching operating capacity.

Ÿ Attempting to build joint services between the county and the cities in an effort to cut overall costs.

Ÿ Charging Sarpy County cities a fee for incarcerating their prisoners in the county jail.

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