The reaction of the Omaha City Council to Mayor Jim Suttle’s tax rich budget is going as expected. It’s a mixed bag and the Mayor has some convincing to do.
North Omaha Councilman Ben Gray who told Nebraska Watchdog just last week that property taxes “better” go up appears to be the Mayor’s earliest ally when it comes to raising taxes. Suttle’s budget hits taxpayers from three sides:
- Wheel Tax Up 65%…from $35 to $58 per car. Raises $8.5 million.
- Restaurant Tax 4%…on food and drink. Raises $23.5 million.
- Property Tax Up 9.3%….on average $60 a year. Raises $12 million.
Following the Mayor’s 2011 budget address on Tuesday his Finance Director, Pam Spacarotella, told Nebraska Watchdog that if the Mayor’s $44 million in higher taxes are not okayed by the Council basic city services will be on the chopping block. “We say we want to do more with less, but we’re now getting to the point where we’re doing less with less.”
But Stothert isn’t convinced, wondering what the Mayor is thinking. As Stothert puts it, “Eleven per cent increase in spending? $20.5 million in wage adjustment account (salary increases and wage contributions)?
Councilman Pete Festersen wants to dig deeper into Suttle’s budget, “I think we need to consider cuts and not just tax increases.”
The wild card on the Council could be Republican Thomas Mulligan. Mulligan, who will be voting on his first budget, has indicated to Nebraska Watchdog that some tax hikes might be necessary.
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Editor’s note: to see Nebraska Watchdog’s initial analysis of the Mayor’s 2011 budget click here.
Editor’s note: to see the Mayor’s 2011 budget click here.
Reported by Joe Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org