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Today's #Omaha City Council meeting could be a doozy.

I'll be live tweeting off of this string.

Here's today's agenda if you'd like to follow along:

At least four major items being discussed. Among them, the new contract for sidewalk snow removal, a year after many residents who didn't shovel snow in time paid exorbitant rates.

From @OWHnews:

Then there's the #vaping tax vote, a proposal by Council president @ChrisJerram to expand the city's occupation tax on tobacco to cover vaping and vaping products.

Here's some recent coverage:

Today is also the public hearing on the proposal by @PeteFestersen to prohibit parking in bike lanes.

A little background here:

And finally, the public hearing on a proposal to boost the mayor's pay and the pay of the #Omaha City Council.

Here's some background on the push for the mayor by @MeltonforOmaha:

And there was also this #recycling announcement.

Not a huge crowd yet, given the number of issues up. Plenty of seats available.
First up is No. 6, an amendment to the overlay of an improvement district near 10th and Farnam.
(Council members are going to have to wave or raise hands today to be recognized to speak. Their buttons to buzz notice that they want to talk is broken and being repaired.)
Items 7-8 are for a property being developed near 64th and Center. Access Bank. Southwest corner of 64th Ave. and Center Street. This is the old Amato's site.
Two story, 6,800 square foot office building for the bank. Media room for community events and community gatherings if groups want to meet there.
A bad photo of the rendering.
Passes 6-0. Harding avoided voting for a potential conflict of interest.
Previous item, 6 passed, 7-0.
Item 9 starts the liquor licenses. Approved 7-0. Sounds like a father died and family wants to carry on business. Item 10 is Gorat's owner bringing on a partner so he can travel more to California more to see his kid.
Item 10, Gorat's approved, 7-0.
Item 11, Panda House, 144th and Center. Approved 7-0.
Item 12 is Mega Saver, 120th and Pacific. Approved 7-0.
Items 13 and 14 might have some drama, Moe's Mart. One at 82nd and Maple, one at 720 N. 108th Ct. Council has some questions about current and previous owner being behind on city's occupation taxes on tobacco and restaurant tax.
Owner: I'm new to all that. Didn't know about the difference between the city and state. Jerram: I'm requesting that you speak with our city's Finance Department so you and your accountant can get set up the right way from the beginning. You probably already owe some taxes.
Council member Brinker Harding: What about the taxes already owed by previous owner and him? We could lay this over for the week. Jerram agrees and says they should wait. Jerram: There is no judgment against him for the previous owner's actions.
Council moves to wait a week to get back taxes paid and arrangements made to make sure they're properly collecting and remitting taxes. Delay approved 7-0.
Last liquor license is "The Report Inn" adding an outdoor area near 121st and Center. Approved 7-0.
Consent agenda next. 16-17, approved 7-0. The gang prevention specialists.
Next is consent agenda public hearings on items 18-54.
Mark Vondrasek, who attends a number of city meetings, is criticizing giving money to the Salvation Army because of how he says they discriminate against LGBTQ people, particularly transgender folks.
Council member Ben Gray talking about the contributions of the Urban League and other organizations trying to help kids across the city try to lead better lives.
Council member Pete Festersen now talking about items 39-53, those are city budget contracts with community partners that were already budgeted, housing, homelessness, job training, tree planting and more.
Council member Aimee Melton addresses 22 and 23, the snow removal contracts we wrote about here:

Melton is asking how the city is going to try for the first time to notify people on the web about when the 24 hours begins. Ordinance says clock starts ticking when major city streets have been plowed. Bob Stubbe, director of Public Works, says they will try to get info out.
Stubbe says the city website and Twitter are likely how they will coordinate letting people know when the 24 hours begins.
Melton is reminding folks to start planning now for snow shoveling. And maybe check on your neighbor and try to help them before calling the city to complain.
Jerram, addressing the Salvation Army critique says people and organizations that do business with the city must follow its nondiscrimination ordinance.
Now onto the vaping tax.
Melton is thanking Jerram for an amendment that will exempt FDA-approved cessation products like patches and gum from the 3% tax. Jerram thanks her for proposing the change. Both thank the Law Department for a revision that made the proposal clearer.
Amendment of the whole has been approved 7-0. Now they're voting on an amendment of the whole. But it might be derailed a bit by a late effort to strike the sunset clause on the occupation tax.
Melton says she wishes she would've known about sunset clause. Jerram says Gray discussed it before. Passes 6-1. Melton against, sounds like because of the late effort to strike the sunset, not because of the proposal.
Now onto the bike lane parking ban. No one from the public showed up to testify for or against.
Festersen mentioning the history, which we wrote about here:

The ordinance also makes sure in city ordinance that no one can park in an active traffic lane, either, something Public Works noticed had not been against the law on multi-lane roadways.
This would not apply to business districts where there's no other way to make deliveries. Law enforcement would have discretion to apply.
Councilman Rich Pahls is asking how ticket amounts for riding scooters on sidewalks vs. parking in bike lanes. Public Works says it will likely make some modifications to the code to adjust.
Item 55, on the vaping tax, Brinker Harding has asked to have his vote on the vaping tax recorded as a no. So now the vaping tax passed 5-2, with Melton and Harding against.
Last big items today are the mayor pay and council pay ordinances. Doesn't look like many folks are here to talk about it. I see Doug Kagan of Taxpayers for Freedom in the crowd. The council is also extending the public hearing into next week since there's a possible amendment.
Luis Jiminenez, a regular meeting attender, is voicing support. Says people should be valued for services rendered.
Doug Kagan, speaking in opposition: All of us can see that council members and the mayor work diligently. But pegging the pay of mayors and city councils to the pay in other cities leaves out cost of living as a consideration and risks a spiraling race to the top.
Kagan: We have no idea how different the economy or responsibilities will be in the years to come. We suggest that the City Council accept amendments coming from Melton and Harding that sets raises to the consumer price index, or CPI. It would adjust.
Now is Larry Storer, a regular attendee. He's speaking against a raise for the mayor. Says there are a lot of unsettled issues that are going to "swelter." I don't think we ought to promise a raise in the future.
Storer: Says it's been harder for him to pay his property taxes.
Melton: One of the reasons that the amendments didn't make it for today is we have asked Law to use the cost of living index. We're making sure we can do that under the charter.
(There are restrictions to passing raises for themselves. It's why they vote to raise the next mayor and council's pay.)
Melton is arguing that she wants to see the mayor's pay bump about 17-18 percent to 122k in 2022 and see raises in the years after that, to reach the median of similar cities.
Here's my story on her reasons for wanting the mayor to be paid more:

Gray: This is one of those opportunities to pay people what they should be paid. This council and the mayor took a four-year wage freeze when things turned south.
Harding: I like basing the raise on an index that could go up or down. It helps us be more cognizant of the economy.
Jerram: I prefer a simple, concise way for taxpayers to know what we are being paid.
Jerram: We're waiting on Law to tell us if that's legal, too. I like the simplicity of the existing structure.
Festersen: What occurred in previous years, the council at the time reflected the happenings and froze their own salaries or wrote checks back to the city so they'd have no increase. In my mind, the proposed increases should reflect what the city employees receive or don't.
Festersen is arguing that Kagan's testimony supports an amendment that's trying to reach the median another way.
Harding: Setting the council and mayor pay to bump 3 percent will make negotiations with labor unions harder.

Jerram: I like the conversation. "I don't know anybody on this council who got in it for the money. Several of us have other jobs because we have to have other jobs."
Jerram: In the end, we'll come up with a reasonable solution.
Councilman Rich Pahls: We freeze our own salaries and some people gave back money. I truly believe the mayor needs more money than even we are suggesting.
Pahls: We want to get away from the idea that you have to be a person of means to do that sort of position.
Council continues public hearing into next week. That'll allow people to speak next time if they didn't today before they vote the same day.
They're moving on to council salaries next. Many of the same people likely to talk. If somebody says something new, I'll jump in. Otherwise, I need to go interview some folks as they wrap up and say thank you for following along.
We are done. Thanks for following along. I'll have an explainer for the vaping tax votes shortly.
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Here’s the story on the #vaping tax #Omaha passed, and the tobacco tax the City Council made permanent.

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