It’s the first Monday of the new year, and by now, most taxpayers are officially back to work after the holidays. Tomorrow, the Omaha City Council has its first meeting of 2020, and this taxpayer will be watching with great interest.
You see, a month ago, KETV aired a story that really grabbed my attention. The developer of Omaha’s Capitol District is asking for an additional ½ percent business occupation tax. This is on top of the 1 percent business occupation tax already collected. The Capitol District and other areas of the city where business occupation taxes are levied are known as Enhanced Employment Areas.
A city may designate an area as an enhanced employment area if it is determined that investment within such area will result in a certain ratio of new employees per given number of inhabitants.
From July 2017 to July 2019, four occupation taxes were passed in Omaha: the Capitol District, TopGolf, the Blackstone District and Avenue One. The passage of each of these business occupation taxes has really irritated me.
Yes, as a consumer, I have a choice as to whether I want to stay home or dine out and support area businesses. But, should I be mandated to pay for a commercial developer’s business loan? In my eyes, they appear to want taxpayers to pay for their “private” investment. Of course, they aren’t asking the taxpayer for approval. They instead go to the government to get taxes levied, leaving the taxpayer with no voice.
What I find interesting is how this additional tax request has pretty much flown under the radar since the December 6, 2019 story aired. Proposed Ordinance 42100 came before the Omaha City Council for its first reading on December 10, 2019. A second reading and public hearing occurred on December 17. Interestingly, the only person who showed up to the hearing was an attorney representing the developer. You can watch his 3-minutes of testimony. It’s at the 1:23:10 mark. Tomorrow, January 7, 2020, the proposed ordinance will be up for a third reading. Will it continue to fly under the radar?