COLUMBIA — A committee has been appointed to help persuade Columbia voters to approve an increase in the city's lodging tax on the Aug. 2 ballot, according to a news release from the Foundation for Columbia's Future.
If approved, the tax on motel and hotel rooms in Columbia would rise to 5 percent, up from the current 4 percent, and would help pay for construction of a new terminal building at Columbia Regional Airport.
City Manager Mike Matthes named these people to the committee:
- Greg Steinhoff, president of strategic operations at Veterans United.
- Jackie Jones, former chief operating officer for MU.
- Pamela Bross, treasurer of the Foundation for Columbia's Future.
- Greg Cecil, a member of the Airport Advisory Board.
- Gary Ward, MU vice chancellor for operations.
- Bob Roper, a retired banker and Columbia Daily Tribune columnist.
- David Parmley, developer of the Broadway Hotel and other projects.
- Chris Kelly, a former state representative and associate circuit judge.
- Rick Means, CEO of Shelter Insurance Cos.
- Terry Rackers, owner of Central Missouri Aviation.
- Eric Morrison, senior vice president and Columbia market president at Providence Bank.
- Mike Alden, former director of athletics at MU.
- Vicki Russell, publisher of the Columbia Daily Tribune.
- David Shorr, attorney and former director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
- Carrie Gartner, executive director of the Business Loop Community Improvement District.
- Bob McDavid, former Columbia mayor.
Steinhoff and Jones are co-chairing the campaign.
So far, there has been no need for the campaign to be aggressive about raising money, Steinhoff said. Over the past three years, the business community, Jefferson City and Columbia have come together to support the project, he said.
"We really have a lot of people who are just offering up resources," Steinhoff said. "People have been financially invested in bringing better air service here for several years."
The Foundation for Columbia's Future is a political action committee. It had $939 in assets, according to the April quarterly campaign finance report filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission.
Steinhoff said Columbia's airport was recently ranked the sixth worst in the country by Travelmath.
"The airport is 50 years old. It's time that we do something," Steinhoff said.
The campaign is working to educate voters about the importance of improving the airport. Steinhoff listed areas that a new terminal could help improve, including better accommodations for people with disabilities, better security and increased capacity.
In the news release, Jones noted the problems .
"It can barely handle today’s passenger count, it will not allow for anticipated growth in commercial air service, and it is unable to appropriately serve people with disabilities, which has been cited by the Federal Aviation Administration,” Jones said.
If approved, the tax would increase to 5 percent for no longer than 23 years. The city also would seek Federal Aviation Administration money to pay half the estimated $38 million it would cost to build a new terminal.
"Once they understand that the tax impact to local residents is virtually non-existent and that the benefits are essential to the stability of the local economy, I think they will find it easy to support the ballot measure,” Steinhoff said in the news release.
Steinhoff said the new terminal "won't be the Taj Mahal."
"This is important that we are not in excess, but at the same time this current terminal has been around for the last 50 years, so we need to make sure we build a facility that will represent our community well, for a long time."
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.