Council urged to treat visioning strategies equally

Monday, January 28, 2008 | 11:01 p.m. CST; updated 10:53 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 8, 2008

COLUMBIA — Visioning Committee members urged City Council members Monday night to treat all strategies listed in the Community Vision and Action Plan equally and not set priorities just yet.

The council, at the work session, reviewed the plan and looked at ways to move forward with implementation.

Visioning Committee members Jeffrey Williams and M. Dianne Drainer turned the plans laid out by citizens over to the council and asked it not to set any specific priorities among the 118 listed strategies.

Council members expressed the importance of relying on existing boards and commissions to help implement the plan. They also stressed the need for transparency in working toward goals.

Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said the council should keep the Vision and Action Plan in mind when making decisions.

“We need to see how we can further these goals.” Hoppe said.

Mayor Darwin Hindman said that the action plan was a useful tool in determining how citizens of Columbia feel about the future of the city.

“They have given us significant insight into what people are thinking.” he said, “We’d like to see that there remains a lot of citizen participation.”

Also at the work session, the council looked at incentive strategies to encourage downtown development.

Council members said they should establish a Downtown Leadership Council soon to aid in the discussion of implementing the Vision and Action Plan.

Mark Grimm of Gilmore & Bell law firm spoke to the council about using development incentives, such as tax increment financing and the Missouri Downtown Economic Stimulus Act. Both programs allow local or state taxes to assist in funding private development projects.

Future downtown projects that may benefit from these incentive programs include a hotel parking garage and the renovation of the Tiger hotel. The council said it’s looking into making the Tiger hotel project a pilot development for the TIF program.

City staff recommended the council consider the approval of a TIF policy at a future council meeting. Some members requested further discussion of the development incentives in future work sessions.

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