COLUMBIA — After nearly three and a half hours of presentations and public discussion, the Tax Increment Financing Commission moved to postpone a decision about its recommendation to the Columbia City Council on two downtown properties until 2 p.m. Tuesday.
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“Given the amount of information provided I think it would be worthwhile for us to deliberate on our own and have further discussion at a subsequent meeting,” said Bruce Walker, who proposed the motion to move the vote.
Columbia citizens crowded in the mezzanine conference room at the Daniel Boone City Building for their first opportunity to voice public opinion on two TIF matters that have garnered attention from the city. Opinion tended toward a lack of support for tax-increment financing for the two projects, though several encouraged the developers to move forward without tax-increment financing.
Most of the citizens who came forward either lived or worked in the downtown area.
“I’m not opposed to the proposal here, but I just think it does need to be done in the private sector,” said Adam Guy, downtown business owner.
During the presentation for The Tiger Hotel, for which the developers are requesting $1.7 million in tax break for renovations totaling $4.4 million, the values of having a destination boutique hotel were emphasized.
“The other Big 12 college markets have boutique hotels, and they function quite well,” said John Ott, one of the developers of The Tiger Hotel. “It becomes a destination in and of itself.”
“If Sedalia has one of these destination hotels, why doesn’t Columbia?” Creach said.
Several parents came forward and expressed their concerns with how the proposed financing would affect Columbia Public Schools.
“I am concerned primarily about the education because the school board is going to come back to the city of Columbia for a property tax increase because they don’t have enough funds,” said Mike Kevins, a parent of four.
The $17.1 million mixed-use development proposed for Tenth and Locust streets received similar types of mixed reviews.
Some focused on the definition of blight, one of the three requirements found within the city’s description of requirements for tax-increment financing, saying that property in downtown Columbia was worth too much to be considered "blighted."
Attendees were generally in favor of downtown development.
"The issue before you this evening is who should pay for it," said David Klarich, who represented a group called Citizens Against Unfair Taxation.
The commission will revisit the issue Tuesday.