The defeat of Proposition 5 in the Nov. 8 election is forcing city officials to reprioritize their list of street projects and funding sources. Columbia City Manager Ray Beck presented a preliminary plan to Boone County commissioners on Tuesday and will take that plan to the Columbia City Council on Monday night.
“(The council) talked about it, and Mr. Beck gathered a little bit of consensus, and this is what he’s going to submit to the council as a report,” Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman said.
The city divided the previous street projects into three categories based on priority, and the city should have the money to do at least the first two. The approval of Proposition 4, a quarter-cent sales tax for roads, will provide $35 million; Proposition 6, an increase in development fees, will provide $19 million. Combined with $26 million from existing revenue sources, the city has a budget of about $80 million spread over the next 10 years to cover street and other transportation needs, including street and corridor preservation, sidewalks and traffic safety. The bulk of the money, $55 million, is earmarked for street projects.
The new budget represents 25 percent less money for transportation than if all the ballot measures had passed, but it shifts an additional $7.2 million to specific street projects.
“We’re cutting back on everything proportionately,” Hindman said.
The priority list is just a starting point, Hindman said. Beck said during his meeting with county officials that priorities could change based on grants and developer agreements.
Beck stressed the importance of two major projects: upgrading the capacity of two unimproved sections of Scott Boulevard, from Brook View Terrace to Rollins Road and from Vawter School Road to the MKT Trail; and widening Range Line Street from Big Bear Boulevard to U.S. 63.
County commissioners wanted Clark Lane improvements from Route PP east to Lake of the Woods moved from the list of least priority to highest priority to accommodate an expected increase in traffic linked to the development of the Links golf course and the hundreds of apartments that will come with it. The addition of the project would bring the total cost of the two higher priority street lists to $50,762,500, which is still within the budget.
Streets on the least-priority list, which the city will probably not have money to complete, include an Interstate 70 overpass at Ballenger Lane from Clark Lane to St. Charles Road, improvements to Bearfield Road from Nifong Boulevard to Clear Creek Road, improvements to a section of Sinclair Road extending 9,000 feet south of Nifong Boulevard, and work on St. Charles Road from Keene Street to Grace Lane.
Commissioners were pleased that Beck came to them about the street needs.
“The city and county is starting to work together more,” said Presiding Commissioner Keith Schnarre.
Southern District Commissioner Karen Miller agreed. “I think it has a stronger impact if it comes from both of us, if it’s a priority of both the city and the county,” she said.
Miller also liked the fact that the report spells out how much money would be required of different entities, including the city, the county, the state and developers.
“I think this is really good,” she said of Beck’s priority list. “This is the best we’ve seen to be able to understand what our options are and for the people to understand what’s required of them.”