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Columbia special election to ask voters whether to extend sales tax

The outside of the City Hall in downtown Columbia
A special election will be held in August to determine whether to extend the current Capital Improvement Sales Tax.

Columbia voters will decide whether to extend the current Capital Improvement Sales Tax during a special election on August 6.

The city uses its quarter-cent Capital Improvement Sales Tax to fund high-cost infrastructure projects. Funds from the tax are primarily split into three areas of focus: streets and sidewalks, fire protection and policing.

The current tax is set to expire Dec. 31, 2025. If voters approve the ballot measure, the sales tax will be extended until Dec. 31, 2035.

In those 10 years, the tax is estimated to collect nearly $83 million.

The city has identified about 40 projects the funding could go towards, totaling over $120 million.

The 2015 funding has been used to complete 20 of the 39 proposed projects, with an additional seven projects currently being funded.

The Public Works department says that it hopes to enhance safety across the city with these projects.

“Safety is a consideration for everything Public Works does,” spokesperson John Ogan said. “When we choose and design projects, we consider how to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries for everyone.”

The Columbia Police Department would recieve an estimated $16 million, while the Columbia Fire Department would receive an estimated $15 million in order to focus on long term projects like developing new fire stations.

“We think (the sales tax is) an important part of how we deliver reliable and fast service to our community when they need us," assistant fire chief Jeffrey Heidenreich said.

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