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Restaurant tax reduction proposed

Posted at 10:45 PM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-13 23:45:22-04

At Tuesday's city council meeting, lawmakers were talking about food trucks when the meeting took a surprising turn.

One council member Chris Jerram tried to lower the 2.5-percent restaurant tax that's been on the books since 2010 and has turned into a political football.

His proposal would drop the percentage to 2.25-percent.

While Omaha considers expanding its restaurant tax to food trucks, one city council member wants to trim the tax for all city restaurants.

“We've had great fanfare about the budget surpluses that we've been running around here,” said Jerram.

Jerram says the 30-million dollars the city is making with the tax would lower to just over 27-million dollars annually if his proposal goes through.

“Why not put the money back in the hands of the taxpayers?” said Jerram.

However while most of the council members agreed the tax should be lowered-they would have liked a heads-up on this proposal which was not on the council's agenda.

 “It would be something that I would want to give the mayor the chance to look at since she's currently out of town before we've had a vote on this,” said councilwoman Aimee Melton.

She says proposing the cut while Mayor Jean Stothert is out of town is all about politics, defending the mayor's argument of reducing property taxes instead of cutting the restaurant tax.

“Without even giving her the opportunity to make a phone call or talk to anybody about this I think is a little disingenuous,” said Melton.

Another proposal was from councilman Franklin Thompson to reduce the tax to 2.475-percent to just offset the projected 300-thousand dollars the food trucks would pay in restaurant tax.

“Trading one tax for the other and it pretty much stays the same,” said Thompson.

The city council is expected to have a vote on these proposals next Tuesday.

The council also delayed the vote on adding the food trucks to the city’s restaurant tax until next week.