Omaha’s commuter tax likely won’t last

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January 31st, 2011

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Omaha's commuter tax would have helped pay for city and road maintenance (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

Omaha, NE – Nebraska lawmakers worked out a deal Monday that would repeal the $50 commuter tax Omaha passed last year. The tax was meant to go into effect January 1st, and would have been imposed on residents of surrounding cities who work within Omaha. The funds would have paid for maintenance and repair on city streets.

The tax irked some lawmakers, who said it amounted to taxation without representation. The bill to repeal it was introduced by State Sen. Abbie Cornett of Bellevue. She said Omaha’s transportation needs should be looked at as a whole, not simply by individual communities.

“We have to stop looking at each individual community as islands,” she said. “And Omaha needs to stop looking at Sarpy County as a suburb.”

The compromise allows Omaha to keep collecting the current commuter tax it imposes on those who live within a three mile zoning area. That lessens the financial loss by a few million dollars. It also establishes a commission to study the metro area’s transportation needs. Omaha senators who had defended the commuter tax said they accepted the compromise because they didn’t have the votes to stop an outright repeal. Lawmakers are expected to vote on the deal Tuesday.

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