LETTER: Barbara Hoppe deserves second term on City Council

Monday, March 30, 2009 | 6:24 p.m. CDT; updated 11:25 a.m. CDT, Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Sixth Ward should elect Barbara Hoppe to another term on the Columbia City Council. Every ward in the city needs her vision, hard work and her belief that the future holds promise for Columbia, for us, our children and our grandchildren. Barbara Hoppe looks forward and believes that there are many ways to achieve what needs to be done so that Columbia will not only grow, but will survive in a way that will benefit all. She works with all her constituents and with all residents of Columbia.

Recently, Chrystia Freeland wrote “The Audacity of Help” in the March 11, Financial Times, and I take from that article: “... now is a pivotal moment in this country; it is time to help define the debate; there is a shift in public opinion; the failure of the market as it has been; the theory that the economy is usually self-sustaining is not happening now; the rising income of inequality with median wage stagnation; income maldistribution has greatly increased; education, health care reform, energy and environmental reform is needed, there is a need for extraordinary public action; and there is a need for each of us to save ourselves and our community from excesses so that we can have what we need, not always what we want and prepare so there is a future for our children and grandchildren.”

There has been greed of the few and loss of the many.

Columbia's economic development has been mainly based on construction of commercial retail establishments, hotels, multifamily and higher-priced homes. Growth has been pushed with TDDs, not with solid planning.

TDDs are state-sanctioned instruments. The city of Columbia and its council have no say in whether to grant or not grant them to developers. Developers have used them extensively in Columbia, so now that this country, state and city are in a financial meltdown, the taxes garnered by the city of Columbia by such sanctioned instruments are no longer flowing into city coffers. Therefore, the city budget has a shortfall.

Also the use of CIDs, NIDs and TIFs are designed to foster growth of a specific kind, not foster growth management planning or comprehensive planning. Comprehensive planning allows for early and continuous public participation, encourages economic development, looks for natural resource industries, reduces sprawl, concentrates urban growth, provides environmental protection, respects property rights, increases affordable housing, promotes regional transportation, provides for historic lands and buildings, has permit processing, puts forth public facilities and services and brings more open space and recreation.

Bill Watkins, Columbia city manager, wrote in his recent 2009 column in the Business Times titled, "City tightens up and stays financially stable”:

“Thanks to council leadership, solid planning, sound financing proposals and effective public education, we are making substantial progress on completing capital improvement projects approved by voters in 2005. We’ve increased citizens' awareness and input through dedicated public council work sessions and online viewing.”

He states the council and staff has started the budget for 2010 and beyond and there will be tough choices to make.

“General government revenues come primarily from sales taxes. Many of these are levied for specific purposes and can only be used for those designated purposes, such as the capital improvement, transportation and parks sales taxes. We expect sales revenues will be tight for at least the next two years, leaving little possibility for expansion of programs. We continue to exceed community expectations for cooperating with public and private organizations. Partnerships with Boone County Government and the University of Missouri benefit Columbia.”

Bill recognizes that the present City council has worked hard and states why Columbia has a shortfall.

Barbara Hoppe has been the Sixth Ward councilwoman for the past three years. She has been an instrumental leader, urging the kinds of substantial progress Watkins describes. With the present council, Barbara Hoppe has supported the university, the Chamber of Commerce and Regional Economic Development Inc., on projects that attract and/or grow businesses that fit well with our community and economic base and keep us buffered from the worst economic downturns.

The council, Barbara Hoppe included, has been working on a comprehensive growth management plan, long-range policies and modernized zoning laws that will smooth the way for good, planned development and growth. Barbara Hoppe specifically proposed at her first council retreat in 2006 that Columbia start a Natural Resources Inventory of the Columbia area. This project is almost completed, using high-definition aerial photography, working in partnership with the MU department of geography for a geographic information system database that will be available to citizens, developers and the city alike, to make good sound decisions for long-range planning and save everyone's time, work and dollars.

Columbia is a leader in the nation in this area. Barbara Hoppe has demonstrated knowledge, commitment and the capacity for good listening. Barbara Hoppe needs to be elected for another term to continue her good work.


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