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Mayor Jean Stothert reaffirmed her opposition to Omaha’s restaurant tax after an Omaha restaurant owner used his Facebook page to question an audit of his business. The post has generated a lot of conversation.

“I opposed the restaurant tax and voted against it as a City Council member. I still oppose the tax because it targets only one industry and is not broad-based,” said Mayor Stothert. “However, the city finance department is required by the restaurant tax ordinance to conduct random audits on businesses that collect the tax. This is the current law, and as Mayor, it is my responsibility to make sure all city laws are followed.”

Mayor Stothert’s proposed 2014 budget does include the continuation of the restaurant tax. Without it, the projected shortfall when the Mayor took office in June would have increased from $20 million to approximately $47 million dollars. “I was able to overcome the $20 million in the time we had to prepare the budget and avoid a property tax increase. It would not be possible to make up the larger deficit in the few short weeks I had to submit the budget,” said Mayor Stothert. “I will begin work immediately on the 2015 budget and it is still my pledge to reduce your tax burden.”

The Finance Department completes an average of ten audits a week of businesses that collect the restaurant tax. It will also schedule random audits of businesses that collect the new tobacco tax. Mayor Stothert also opposed that tax and voted against it as a City Council member.