COLUMBIA — Voters will decide whether to renew part of the city’s park sales tax for the second time in the Nov. 3 election.
If extended, the tax would generate an estimated $18.4 million over the next six years. The tax would fund:
- About $2.6 million in land acquisition and preservation.
- $8.3 million in maintenance and improvements to existing parks.
- $3.2 million toward the development of new parks.
- $2.9 million toward trails and greenbelts.
- $900,000 toward annual funding, which includes equipment replacement.
- $500,000 set aside for unexpected expenses.
The city's total park sales tax is one-fourth of a cent. One-eighth of that is a permanent tax used to fund the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department's operating budget. The other one-eighth, which is up for renewal, funds park improvements and development.
Columbia Parks and Recreation Department Director Mike Griggs said the city has "completed or substantially completed" all the proposed projects from 2010 when the tax was last renewed. According to the city's website, 52 of the 64 planned projects are complete, and the rest are underway.
Voters first approved the tax in 2005.
Griggs said the city will focus on improving existing parks if the tax is renewed in November.
"If I had to sum it up in one sentence — taking care of what we have," he said.
Park standards have increased, and people want more amenities in their parks than in the past, Griggs said. He cited demand for mirrors, hand soap and automatic hand dryers in park restrooms.
Griggs said the city is committed to keeping up with park users' higher standards.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.