The Columbia Board of Education is expected to vote at tonight’s meeting on whether to have a representative from the district work with Regional Economic Development Inc.
The administration is recommending that the board take action to ensure input on work with REDI to draft policies that use incentives to draw businesses to Boone County. The incentives could temporarily reduce property taxes for the prospective businesses. Because the school board depends on revenue from property taxes and each development would have different outcomes, the financial effect of the proposal is unknown.
School board member Kerry Crist said she is “100 percent opposed” to using incentives to draw businesses to Columbia.
“We don’t need to make deals” to make Columbia appealing for businesses, Crist said. She said that Columbia is already a great place to live and that REDI’s goals are not in the schools’ interest. A representative for the district would “be a minority” and wouldn’t have any decision-making power, Crist said.
Bernie Andrews, president of REDI, said he wants to prevent miscommunication between the board and REDI.
“We want them at the table to get their input on each individual project and its potential impact on the school district,” Andrews said.
School board president J.C. Headley said there were concerns over the proposal at the last board meeting May 10. He said any time an issue of tax forgiveness or deferral of payments is brought up, the school board has to be concerned.
Tonight’s board meeting agenda also includes further discussion of the proposed 2004-05 budget. The issue will again be open to public comment, and Headley said the board will probably vote tonight. Headley also said he expects the budget to be approved, as there was not much discussion at the budget meeting Thursday. The board also might vote on Hickman High School renovation bids and bus routes.
Other items on the agenda include updates on the summer school program and the model-school project at West Boulevard Elementary.