An ordinance that would implement a one and a half percent restaurant tax to help fund infrastructure improvements in Scottsbluff was approved by the City Council Tuesday evening.
Just last week the council delayed implementing a 4% hotel occupation tax for the same purpose. The restaurant tax, which was initially rejected by the council, was brought back at the request of one of the council members as part of ongoing discussion regarding another revenue option for the city.
Runza Restaurant owner Neal Blomenkamp addressed the council in support of the tax. But, he did express concerns with how the tax would be collected. Blomenkamp also recommended that a portion of the revenue from the tax be used in promoting community projects.
Discussions will continue on how the money would be earmarked and collected prior to ordinance going into effect. The ordinance faces two more readings before passage, and would be implemented beginning January 1st.
The council Monday evening also held a public hearing and then approved applying for a $30,000 pre-development state grant to help redevelop southeast Scottsbluff.
City Manager Nathan Johnson says the grant, to be leveraged with cash and in-kind contributions, will help establish a plan for the redevelopment project. Working with the Panhandle Area Development District once the plan is developed, the city can then apply for $700,000 in implementation funds to be used in the same fashion as the downtown money several years ago to improve businesses and other aspects of southeast Scottsbluff.