Keep Columbia Free seeks volunteers for potential recall petition

Saturday, May 19, 2012 | 3:18 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Keep Columbia Free is seeking volunteers to circulate petitions that would seek to recall any City Council member who votes in favor of recreating an enhanced enterprise zone board.

The council is scheduled to consider an ordinance Monday night that would re-establish the board, replacing one the council dissolved at its last regular meeting. The board would be charged with establishing proposed boundaries for an enhanced enterprise zone. The state EEZ program requires that areas within the zone be blighted.

If the council approves the zone, some businesses that locate or expand within it would be eligible for local tax abatements and state tax credits. Supporters of the zone, including representatives of Regional Economic Development Inc., say the zone would help Columbia and Boone County compete for manufacturing jobs. Opponents say that a blight decree would harm property values and open the door to abuse of eminent domain. They also worry that the incentives would erode the local tax base.

Keep Columbia Free member Mark Flakne issued a news release Friday warning council members of potential recalls.

"Due to the overwhelming public outcry resulting from the City Council’s plan to declare large areas of Columbia 'blighted' and create an Enhanced Enterprise Zone, Keep Columbia Free is asking for volunteers to step forward and take action to recall any and all current City Council representatives who choose to ignore the wishes of their engaged constituents and vote in favor of establishing an EEZ board," the news release said.




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