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Columbia City Council approves potential downtown tax district

Monday, February 7, 2011 | 11:13 p.m. CST; updated 11:38 p.m. CST, Monday, February 7, 2011

COLUMBIA – Advocates for an increase in the sales tax downtown are one step closer to getting the issue to voters after Monday night's Columbia City Council meeting.

At its meeting, the council unanimously approved the formation of a community improvement district downtown. The lines of the new district will follow the current borders of the Special Business District.

Board members for the new district plan to get out and talk to downtown residents about a proposed half-cent district sales tax increase. The issue, which could make it to a ballot as early as April 5, would be voted on only by district residents. If passed by at least 50 percent of the residents, the sales tax in the district would increase from 7.35 percent to 7.85 percent.

Property owners in the district currently pay 47.88 cents in property tax per $100 in assessed valuation. The new community improvement district will now collect this tax, formerly levied by the Special Business District; it amounted to $172,000 in 2010, according to Carrie Gartner, executive director of the Special Business District.

The property tax, along with the proposed increased sales tax, would bring in an estimated $2.5 million over five years, starting in 2012.

Revenue generated from the sales and property taxes could go towards various district projects approved by the district's board of directors such as sanitation, public safety, marketing and beautification projects.

“Some of these projects might 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,” Gartner said.

The first steps for the new board of directors will be to set up bylaws, meeting schedules and an organizational structure, Mary Wilkerson, chairwoman of the Special Business District board, said in a previous Missourian article.


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Comments

Jeremy Calton February 8, 2011 | 12:48 a.m.

“Some of these projects might include...marketing efforts"
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AFAICT, all marketing paid for by the city over the years has been a huge waste of resources. I'd vote No on anything that allowed them to spend more on it.
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As for a downtown* sales tax, how would making them less competitive help downtown* businesses?
I guess if we can raise more taxes from downtown* that will allow us to give tax-breaks to build more Wal-Marts. That should really encourage local retail.
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This town has slowly destroyed what character it had over the past 15 years. I assume in another 15, everything here will be a franchise/chain of some sort. It's getting to be that I can no longer tell whether the Chamber of Commerce has a long-term vision for the city they are running, or not.
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* AKA "The District"--another colossal waste of funds on marketing--a phrase I've never heard used in conversation except sarcastically.

(Report Comment)
John M. Nowell, III February 8, 2011 | 10:52 a.m.

I agree Jeremy.

If Carrie Gartner is really interested in promoting downtown businesses, then step one is to figure out a way to convince retailers and their staff not to park as close to the front door of where they work, and use the garages. Leave the on street parking for their customers.

Micro-managing the type of businesses downtown hasn't been very effective. In a previous article, someone was quoted as saying "we want the right kind of businesses to locate downtown." Other than Shakespears, Bouches, and a handfull of nice shops, there is no reason to go downtown on a regular basis. Downtown is full of legal offices, restuarants, tatoo parlors, coffee shops, and bars.

Carrie, too much icing, not enough cake.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 8, 2011 | 11:38 a.m.

Maybe "The District" can purchase the downtown "safety" cameras with their increased budget, assuming the voters approve it, instead of sticking the city with the rising bill?

(Report Comment)

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