Group raises money to oppose road taxes

Monday, October 3, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:27 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Citizens for Timely and Responsible Road Infrastructure Financing hosted a pig roast benefit Sunday to raise money for its campaign to defeat the Columbia City Council’s road tax ballot proposals.

The group raised $1,000 through the event, which 40 people attended. Tickets were $25.

“We ordered food for about 50 people,” Karl Skala said. “We sold about 25 before-tickets, but we had a lot of people who wanted to just buy tickets at the door.”

The group’s goal of the afternoon was to inform Columbia voters and rally support for its cause, which was spelled out on shirts worn by members.

“Vote NO on both road sales taxes. Vote YES on development charges,” the shirts read.

Members say that Propositions 4 and 5, the road sales taxes, are unfair to Columbia taxpayers and that there is a better way to pay for road infrastructure.

“Right now, the developers pay 3 percent of the cost of road infrastructure developments,” member Ben Londeree said. “We don’t think that’s fair. The developments with the most heavily used roads should be paying more of these costs.”

Educating citizens on road infrastructure and Propositions 4 and 5 is a high priority for the group.

“We are looking to pay for the costs of copies and informing the public in order to generate discussion,” Skala said. “We are working to inform citizens on these issues.”

The group’s strong opposition to Propositions 4 and 5, which would extend the current ¼ percent sales tax for capital improvement projects for new road construction and add another 1/8 percent sales tax for new road construction, is paired with its strong support of Proposition 6.

The group hopes its campaigning will affect the November elections and that Proposition 6 passes. Proposition 6 would increase road infrastructure charges for developers to 50 cents from 10 cents per square foot of building construction.

“If all three ballots passed, then Columbia residents would pay 82 percent of the costs for new road construction, and developers only pay 18 percent,” Londeree said. “The city won’t raise developers’ fees significantly if Propositions 4 and 5 pass. They would have the money from taxes.

“A supercenter should be paying a significant fee, because it is generating the most traffic,” Londeree said. “The calculation of the fee should correspond with that. The main issue is that existing taxpayers are paying for roads that new developers use.”

Members also expressed their concern that development fees collected from one area of Columbia are used in completely different areas of the city.

“Collective fees should be used where the developing is in that area,” said Jim Reese, a member who attended the pig roast with his family.

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