Council to review Special Business District sales tax proposal

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | 5:19 p.m. CST; updated 5:40 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 25, 2011

COLUMBIA — Downtown leaders continue laying the groundwork for a proposed half-cent sales tax for shoppers in the Special Business District.

Residents in a proposed Community Improvement District, which mirrors the Special Business District downtown, will vote on the proposed tax in the upcoming election.

Improvement District Board of Directors

Length of initial term served:

Deb Sheals, 3 years

Richard King, 3 years

Allan Moore, 3 years

Christina Kelly, 3 years

Michael Wagner, 2 years

Skip Walther, 2 years

Adam Dushoff, 2 years

Marti Waigandt, 2 years

Larry Colgin, 1 year

Paul Land, 1 year

Michael McClung, 1 year

Blake Danuser, 1 year

Erin Keltner, 1 year

Vacant, 3 years

Vacant, 2 years

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The community improvement district goes before the Columbia City Council on Feb. 7. Approval would set the stage for a public vote as soon as the municipal election on April 5.

“If we could get the proposed sales tax on the April ballot, then great," Mary Wilkerson, chair of the Special Business District board, said.

The next election date would be on June 7.

"In reality, the new district’s first priorities will be to create bylaws, meeting schedules and an overall organizational structure that every new entity needs,” Wilkerson said.

The sales tax would bring in an estimated $2.5 million over five years. Currently, the sales tax rate in The District is 7.35 percent. The proposed sales tax increase would bring it to 7.85 percent.

Revenue generated by the proposed sales tax increase would be used to make The District cleaner, bolster public safety programs, jump-start marketing efforts and enhance the beautification process, Wilkerson said. 

“Some of these projects could include hiring people to clean sidewalks and remove graffiti, as well as marketing efforts to reach out to real estate and business developers to attract new business to the District,” said Carrie Gartner, executive director of the District.

Once the council approves the proposed improvement district, the next step would be discussing ways to spend the new revenue with individual residents of the District, Gartner and Wilkerson said.

Eligible voters for the proposed sales tax increase would have to be registered voters of Boone County and residents of the proposed district. The vote would need more than 50 percent support to pass.

The exact number of eligible voters will have to be determined later because the District’s residency varies from semester to semester, Gartner said.

Even without the proposed sales tax increase, the formation of the community improvement district would result in a decreased business license fee, making it easier for district businesses to operate.

Property owners in the district currently pay a 47.88-cent per $100 assessed valuation property tax. Gartner said the proposed district would collect property taxes formerly levied by the Special Business District, which generated $172,000 in 2010.

If the community improvement district is established, much of the revenue generated from property taxes will be used for projects approved by the new district’s board of directors.


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