Boone County residents ask for spending explanation before tax increase approval

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 | 7:19 p.m. CDT; updated 9:04 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

COLUMBIA — Before considering whether to ask voters for more money to fund road work, the Boone County Commissioners decided they first need to prioritize what road improvements are needed.

A meeting Wednesday, attended by about a dozen Boone County residents, was intended to brainstorm ideas for road maintenance and improvement plans and future funding.

Instead, several in attendance felt that residents needed to have an idea of how and where the money will be spent before the county could ask for increased sales tax or property tax. In November, county voters approved a 10-year renewal of the half-cent sales tax for roads, which was first passed in 1993.

“We need a list of, say, the ten most expensive projects,” said Larry Moore, chairman-elect of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

Presiding County Commissioner Ken Pearson said the next step would be to start with the listing of road projects that have been previously identified and add citizen suggestions to create a list of priority projects.

At no point in the meeting did anyone say current levels of funding would be enough to improve roads and keep up on maintenance.

“That’s not a sufficient resource as we move forward,” said Barton Wechsler, director of Harry S. Truman School of Public Affairs.

The commission hopes to address the question in future meetings.

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