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City manager: transportation key to growth

Thursday, May 20, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:22 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

An increase in the city sales tax and expanded use of transportation development districts might help cover fiscal year 2005 transportation costs, according to City Manager Ray Beck.

At the State of the City address Wednesday morning, Beck emphasized quality infrastructure as a means to maintain annual city growth rates of 1 percent to 2 percent.

“Roadway projects cost between $4 million and $7 million a year,” Beck said. “Increasing developers’ fees pushes development outside of the city.”

The estimated 2004 budget provides about $5 million for street and sidewalk construction and repair. To cover the increasing costs of transportation projects, Beck expects the City Council to turn to other revenue sources.

A 0.25 percent sales tax generates about $4 million a year, some of which pays for transportation. Other revenue sources include county sales tax, funds from the Missouri Department of Transportation and transportation development districts.

“Transportation development districts could be a big part of future transportation funding,” Beck said.

TDDs are special purpose government districts that have contractual agreements with the city, county or state government that oversee new road maintenance.

“TDDs may levy additional taxes in the form of sales taxes, property taxes or special assessments within the area to pay for specific transportation costs,” said Bill Watkins, assistant city manager.

The government collects the additional TDD sales tax proceeds and returns them to the district to pay off road construction expenditures.

“The government has to approve the TDD project and plan,” Watkins said. “In our two existing TDDs the city council has set the maximum sales tax rate a .25 cents.”

The city council plans to hire a consultant, in conjunction with Boone County, to examine finance issues and make suggestions about extending or changing the current sales tax, which expires in December 2005.

“We’ll be looking at roads and infrastructure,” said Keith Schnarre, Boone County presiding commissioner. “We decided we would be willing to work together, but there are still a lot of uncertain details to work out.”

Current city and state transportation projects include improving the U.S. 63/Interstate 70 interchange, and East Broadway from Old 63 to U.S. 63. Future transportation projects that still lack funding include widening Scott Boulevard and extending Stadium Boulevard from U.S. 63 to I-70.

Transportation is one of many issues the Columbia City Council will discuss at its annual retreat at the Lake of the Ozarks this weekend.

Info

The annual State of the City address gives the city manager an opportunity to tell residents about programs and priorities for both the past year and the year to come. Issues highlighted Wednesday in addition to transportation include:

  • Planning for fire department needs and negotiating to purchase two sites for future fire stations.
  • Extending the 0.125 percent parks sales tax to fund parks and recreation, which expires in April 2006.
  • Providing renovation and additions to downtown buildings to increase office and commercial space.
  • Increasing the museum and education district.
  • Developing plans to use methane gas as a fuel source.
  • Continuing use of new technology to improve customer service, including on-line utility billing.
  • Conducting the second citywide comprehensive citizen survey, to begin after Oct. 1.


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