OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert's Office says the city's revenue budget will likely fall short of their projections but they expect to end the year with a surplus.
According to a release from her office, "a significant and unexpected increase in sales tax refunds accounts for a loss of projected revenue in the 2019 2nd Quarter Financial Report."
They say the city paid $12.6 million in refunds during the first eight months of 2019, "higher than any year dating back ten years."
Refunds are paid out to qualifying businesses as the result of two bills, LB775 and LB312, which aim to help expand businesses and employment in the state.
"This incentive program is an economic development tool that has been successful for business growth in the state, but it comes at a cost," says Stothert. "When refunds are high, we benefit from new investment and new jobs in Omaha, but we also lose revenue that we count on to provide services for our citizens."
The mayor's office says Nebraska Senator John McCollister, out of Omaha, has presented a bill to the state legislature that would help the city plan for refunds during the next calendar year but that it hasn't advanced.
"We introduced LB441 to give us the ability to budget an agreed upon amount and then true up any differences in the next budget", said Finance Director Steve Curtiss. "A process to appropriately plan and budget provides more certainty for our taxpayers."
Stothert's Office says all city departments are under budget, other than the Omaha Police Department, which should contribute towards a projected year-ending surplus in the general fund.
The city is projecting a $1.6 million surplus at the end of the year.
3 News Now Reporter John Kipper will have more on this story after a press event at the mayor's office tonight on 3 News Now Live at 6 and 10 - Available on-air, on our website and on the 3 News Now apps for mobile and streaming devices.
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