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City Council votes to apply restaurant tax to food trucks

Posted at 2:23 PM, Nov 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-22 23:23:48-05

After months of delays, finally a decision was made on Tuesday on the food truck tax.

The Omaha City Council has voted 5-2 to apply restaurant tax to food trucks. 

Omaha food trucks will now pay the 2.5-percent tax brick and mortar stores charge.

"I think it's a win-win for everybody," said Omaha city council president Ben Gray.

The restaurant tax was implemented in 2010 when the city was struggling financially, but years later the tax is creating a budget boom for the city.

The city said the restaurant tax will bring in over 30-million dollars by year's end, now these food trucks will chip in too.

"It does get passed down to the consumer so if the consumer has a problem with it, they can talk to their counselor member as far as businesses go, it's game on down at the old market and downtown for the food trucks and we are happy to be a part of it," said Kelly Keegan, Omaha Food Truck Association President.

Also weighing in on council member's minds during this debate was a pending lawsuit against the city from a restaurant saying the tax wasn't fair if the food trucks were not paying it.

"I had always felt like the city was vulnerable that we were going to get hit with a ruling saying that we're actually giving an advantage to brick and mortar stores so that bothered me from the very beginning," said councilman Franklin Thompson.

That fear is now gone, but the lingering question now is should the city reduce the tax altogether. That's why council member Rich Pahls voted no on expanding the tax to food trucks.

"Until you can give me some ideas of how we can reduce it in the future, that was my goal," said Pahls.

Those who voted for expanding the tax said that's a fight for another day.

"That's just something we ought to look at, we got to at least look at reducing it," said Thompson.

"I would like to see more of what's it's going to be or what we can do with it other than reduce it," said Gray.

The tax will go into effect 15 days from Tuesday.