COLUMBIA — The City Council discussed a recommendation report at its pre-council meeting Tuesday night, urging the city to increase property and sales taxes and add new fees in an effort to deal with the shortage of funding for building and maintaining roads.
According to the report, submitted by the Infrastructure Task Force, there is an estimated average annual shortfall of nearly $14 million in construction of city streets and sidewalks.
According to the report, the following methods are recommended to secure additional revenue sources to close the gap:
- The Transportation Sales Tax should be reserved only for streets and sidewalks projects. It should no longer fund airport and bus system.
- The airport and bus systems should be funded by a 10-year general obligation bond, made possible by a property tax increase of no more than 20 cents for capital investment.
- The current Capital Improvements Tax should be extended and the rate doubled for streets and sidewalks.
- A use tax should be implemented, which would be collected and distributed by the state.
- Collect an annual registration fee for vehicles, scooters, trailers, motorcycles, RV's, etc. If the fee were $10, it would generate more than $1.3 million annually for the city.
- Collect a bicycle license fee for all bicycles sold. If a $10 fee were implemented, it would bring in about $550,000 annually.
Phebe LaMar-Emig, chairwoman of the Infrastructure Task Force who presented the report, said there is a necessity in charging bikers some fee because the city has constructed many bicycle lanes and bikers should pay for the service.
“I don’t have a problem with the fact we constructed them, but we constructed them at the expense of the city, which has no way to maintain them,” LaMar-Emig said.
Mayor Bob McDavid said, “Citizens are speaking about infrastructure, and speaking loudly.”