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Downtown Leadership Council wants to write infrastructure report

Tuesday, March 25, 2014 | 8:37 p.m. CDT; updated 1:40 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 7, 2014

COLUMBIA — The Downtown Columbia Leadership Council wants to draft a report on how to fund improvements to downtown's utility infrastructure, and its commissioners are asking the Columbia City Council for permission to begin.

Commissioners will present the council with a letter asking for explicit direction on what council members want Downtown Leadership to study.

The letter will be read by council during its next scheduled meeting on April 7. The letter is the first step in the process for authorizing Downtown Leadership to take specific actions, such as holding public input meetings and drafting a report.

"I want council to bless this," Commissioner Brian Treece said.

Attached to the letter will be a preliminary outline by Commissioner Nick Peckham that details what Downtown Leadership's report would include while leaving the door open for council members' suggestions. One suggested funding mechanism is a TIF district. (To learn more about tax increment financing, read this CoMo You Know entry.)

Commissioners want to see both a long-term and short-term funding mechanism.

Deputy City Manager Tony St. Romaine first floated the idea for Downtown Leadership to take the lead on engaging the public about infrastructure.

Several residents have told St. Romaine via email the city needs to do a better job communicating. These emails came in response to the rapid pace at which three downtown student housing developments were introduced and voted on within a week.

St. Romaine said he hopes Downtown Leadership holding public meetings would help address these communication concerns.

Council members Ian Thomas, Karl Skala and Barbara Hoppe and Mayor Bob McDavid have said they support holding meetings and look forward to any suggestions that come from the Downtown Columbia Leadership Council.

In the meantime, St. Romaine said a report detailing the costs and benefits of a potential Tax Increment Financing District could become public by the end of the week. One funding proposal includes forming a TIF district.

He said that the report was being finalized and converted into the format the city had requested.

Downtown Leadership's Infrastructure Subcommittee will continue to meet semi-weekly. Its next meeting will be at 5 p.m. April 2 in the Daniel Boone City Building.

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.


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