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Food truck rules delayed, again, in Omaha

Posted at 6:03 PM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-09 19:10:05-04
The hot-button issue to have food truck vendors pay the city's restaurant tax is delayed by the Omaha City Council.  
 
Food truck operators are willing to pay the 2.5 percent levy.
 
The city is not imposing it.
 
City Council voted five to two Tuesday to delay a vote that would force food truck vendors to collect the city's restaurant tax for five weeks.
 
The city says they’re using the time to draft rules on where food trucks can operate.
 
Food Truck Association President Kelly Keegan told KMTV Action 3 News he’s not surprised by the decision and is in favor of it.
 
"The council thinks we should pay it, we will, but on the other side of that we want to be able to compete downtown,” Keegan said. “Right now food trucks are illegal if you want to sell from the curb, you can't do it. The second piece of this is the legislation that will come after the food tax to determine where and when we can operate legally downtown.”
 
That's part of the reason why Keegan says the group isn't fighting city council members who want to impose the city's 2.5 percent restaurant tax on food truck sales.
 
"When they change these laws there will be more trucks in Omaha there's no doubt about it,” he said. “Different restaurants, brick and mortars like myself, are going to find the advantages of having a truck and they'll do that people will get into this business." 
 
Keegan says he's been working with the city on legislation that would clearly define food truck rules so vendors can focus on competing with restaurants.
 
"Write legislation that will make it legal for us to be downtown and make Omaha the cosmopolitan town we really want it to be," Keegan said. 
 
Once Omaha's restaurant tax applies to food trucks, Keegan says prices will slightly increase.
 
"It's two and a half percent,” he said. “It's not a crazy amount of money. The citizens are already paying it at all brick and mortars. You're hotdog is going to go up a quarter. Omaha has accepted the food tax. We'll see what happens today though."
 
The City Council moved the decision to Sept. 13.
 
The delay will give city leaders time to craft food truck regulations that will benefit vendors, Keegan said.