La Vista Voters Face Two Important Questions this November
La Vista residents voting in the November 8 General Election will see two questions on the ballot that will significantly impact the City’s future.
Voters will be asked about:
- Continuing the City’s existing half-cent sales tax for major street improvement projects and other capital expenditures. A half-cent sales tax was first adopted in 1990. Currently, it is set to expire in 2025. Voter approval is needed to continue the tax beyond that point.
See how the half-cent tax issue will appear on the ballot.
- Replacing an existing 1.5% restaurant tax with an amended 2.5% restaurant tax (the same rate as Omaha and Ralston) and removing a $700,000 cap on revenue. Established in 2019, the City’s current restaurant tax is limited by state statute. Voters will be asked to remove the cap, allowing revenue to exceed the statutory limit.
See how the restaurant tax issue will appear on the ballot.
Half-Cent Sales Tax Continuation
La Vista voters approved a half-cent sales tax for street improvements in 1990 and voted to renew the tax in 2000 and 2010. Since its inception, the half-cent sales tax has provided more than $35 million for many public infrastructure projects. Revenue from the tax pays for all or a portion of most major street improvement projects in the City and other capital expenditures. Voters will be asked to continue the half-cent sales tax with a 30-year sunset, which would make it effective through 2025.
- Is the half-cent tax new?
No. La Vista voters approved the half-cent sales tax for street improvements in 1990 with an initial expiration of 10 years. It was renewed in 2000 and 2010, the last time with a 15-year sunset. Approval for continuation of the City’s half-cent sales tax would not be an increase from the current level collected in the City — it would be maintaining what exists.
- Why is the half-cent sales tax important?
Since its inception, the half-cent sales tax has generated over $35 million and funded most of the City’s major street improvements and other capital projects. Currently, the sales tax generates about $2.5 million annually, which helps pay for the annual debt payments for the City. Without the half-cent sales tax, other revenue sources would be needed to make debt payments.
- What past projects has the half-cent sales tax funded?
The half-cent sales tax has paid for all or a portion of most major street improvement projects and other capital expenditures, including:
- Harrison Street widening (4 lanes/divided) – 72nd to 90th (Pine Drive)
- Giles Road widening (4 lanes/divided) – 72nd to 107th
- Cornhusker Road (Portal) 96th to 100th
- 66th Street (Giles to Harrison)
- 84th & Park View Blvd. improvements
- 96th Street (Giles to Cornhusker) (Portal)
- 78th & Harrison signalization
- 72nd Street pedestrian crossing signalization & improvements (various crossings)
- Sports Complex parking improvements
- 114th Street improvements north of Giles
- 84th Street improvements (Giles to Harrison)
- Cornhusker/Portal/107th Street realignment
- West Papio Trail
- Keystone Trail
- 96th & Brentwood signalization
- 132nd & West Giles improvements
- 120th & Giles signalization
- Harrison Street Bridge improvements
- Annual street resurfacing projects
- Annual sidewalk district improvements
- What would happen if the half-cent sales tax is not renewed by voters?
If voters do not approve the continuation of the City’s half-cent sales tax, alternative solutions such as service reductions or tax increases would need to be considered in order to pay for existing debt. The City Council would also have to determine which current and future projects to delay or cancel.
- What planned future projects would potentially be impacted if the half-cent sales tax is not renewed?
Some of the projects included in the City’s multi-year Capital Improvement Program that could potentially lose funding if the half-cent sales tax is not renewed include:
- East La Vista Sewer Project — pavement portion (FY23)
- 120th & Giles drainage improvements (FY23)
- Storm sewer inlet top repair (FY23)
- 73rd Ave. culvert rehabilitation (FY23)
- Giles Road rehabilitation (FY23)
- Ultra-thin bonded asphalt (UBAS) Harrison to Josephine (FY23)
- Asphalt mill and overlay Terry Dr. and 78th St. (FY23)
- Corridor 84 Streetscape phases (FY23-FY26)
- Central Park East access road (FY24)
- Harrison Street Bridge (FY25)
- Various concrete and asphalt street rehabilitation projects (FY25-FY27)
In 2019, the City established a restaurant tax at the rate of 1.5%, which was expected to generate revenue amounts consistent with the state’s statutory limit of $700,000. After two years of collecting the tax, however, revenues exceeded this amount, collecting $765,323 in FY20 and $993,675 in FY21. The ordinance approved by Council included a planned review following two years of experience.
La Vista voters will be asked to remove the $700,000 limit and continue the restaurant tax at a rate of 2.5% in order to share the cost of funding increased service demands and infrastructure repair and improvements with non-residents. Raising the tax rate by 1% is projected to generate more than $1 million annually or $10.1 million over 10 years.
While residents certainly shop and eat in La Vista, according to market studies, on average, 90% of the business transactions in La Vista involved visitors from outside the City’s limits.
- What is the restaurant tax revenue used for in La Vista?
The revenue generated by the restaurant tax helps fund the City's basic operations and maintenance associated with police, fire, community development, parks, recreation, library, streets, swimming pool, public transportation and general government.
An increase in this revenue will be used to ensure that quality services are maintained as the City continues to grow and expand services to ensure that new and existing areas are safe and well-maintained.
- Why is additional revenue important for the City?
Developments such as La Vista City Centre, Central Park, Nebraska MultiSport Complex and Southport are expected to generate hundreds of activities and events, bringing in more than 500,000 visitors to La Vista each year. This will increase the demand for public services for everything from traffic control and snow removal to calls for service and other public safety needs. Because of the types of development underway and anticipated, the number of visitors will also increase and grow food and beverage sales.
The City’s goal has always been to add top-notch amenities to the community without increasing the property tax burden. In addition to growth, the City must also keep pace with the rising prices for fuel, vehicles, equipment, construction materials, electronics, and more impacting operational and maintenance costs. The restaurant tax is a way to share these financial challenges equally with non-residents and residents alike.
Additional restaurant tax revenue will ultimately make the City less reliant on property taxes to provide services and amenities for its residents.
- What would happen if voters do not approve the amended restaurant tax?
If voters do not approve the 2.5% restaurant tax, the 1.5% tax would remain intact. However, the City would be forgoing approximately $1.5 million per year in additional revenue.
- Is it just La Vista residents who end up paying the restaurant tax?
No. While residents certainly shop and eat in La Vista, according to market studies, on average, 90% of the business transactions in La Vista involved visitors from outside the City’s limits.