Gov. Pete Ricketts on Monday attacked a proposed 1.5% restaurant tax in La Vista, using Twitter to urge the City Council to reject the measure, calling it “bad for families and business!”
“The strength of the economy and existing revenue growth — not new taxes — should fund city hall,” Ricketts wrote in one of two tweets on the tax.
The proposed restaurant tax, which would apply to many food and drink establishments, could generate up to $700,000 annually, according to La Vista.
La Vista Mayor Doug Kindig said he was disappointed that Ricketts expressed his dissent on social media rather than in a one-on-one phone call.
“Is that how we communicate in this state now with our elected leaders?” Kindig asked.
Kindig said he has invited the governor multiple times to come to La Vista to study the city’s budget, which Kindig said would give Ricketts greater insight into how local municipalities manage growth.
Those meetings were not accepted, Kindig said.
“I thought we had a good enough relationship that he would at least call me and ask me about it,” Kindig said.
Ricketts and Kindig did eventually speak on the phone Monday, Ricketts’ spokesman Taylor Gage wrote in an email.
“During a call earlier today, the governor listened as the mayor expressed his views.
“From day one, the governor has championed the principle that government must live within its means and that it shouldn’t raise taxes on hardworking Nebraskans.”
Kindig largely declined to discuss the specifics of the call. He did say the governor acknowledged that the matter could have been handled differently.
Ricketts, a Republican, is no friend to most tax increases. During the 2019 legislative session, he vetoed a bill that would have created a regional transit service in Omaha with taxing authority.
Ricketts said LB 492 would amount to “an incredible $17 million property tax increase” for Omaha and Douglas County residents and could lead to higher property taxes in Sarpy County communities as well. The Legislature overrode his veto.
Kindig, a Republican, has said the La Vista restaurant tax would help fund infrastructure projects, city services and staffing.
“We do our ... financial planning in a very conservative way, but to grow, we do need funding sources,” Kindig said Monday. “These funding sources are a way to help diversify our tax base for the next generation so we don’t have to rely on property tax.”
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The council will consider the tax at 6 p.m. Aug. 20 at La Vista City Hall.
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