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City Council Kills Amendment That Would Direct Funds to Bus System

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Despite impassioned testimony from residents, the Columbia City Council shut down a budget amendment last night that could’ve added about $260,000 per year to the GoCOMO public transit system.

KJ Thunder is a Columbia resident who frequents the buses, and says that something needs to change.

“Anybody who has another option, they're doing that other option,” Thunder said. “Nobody takes the bus anymore. If they have any other options, because the bus doesn't go anywhere and it doesn’t go very often.”

4th Ward Councilman Ian Thomas proposed adding a $3 per day parking fee at the Columbia Regional Airport to raise $262,800 to support the bus system. The amendment was killed with a 5-2 vote -- only Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala sided with Thomas.

The City of Columbia levies a half-cent on the dollar sales tax for transportation. Currently, the bus system and airport each receive about $3 million from the tax each year. Thomas said in an email to residents that he has “serious concerns” about the use of sales tax revenue to subsidize airport operations, since, he says, the airport primarily serves wealthier residents. 

During last night’s meeting, the council discussed establishing a task force to explore solutions to the city’s public transit problems.

The council is scheduled to vote on the final budget September 16.

Zia Kelly graduated with degrees in journalism and public health at the University of Missouri - Columbia in May 2020.. Outside of the newsroom, she works part-time as a personal trainer and competes as an Olympic-style weightlifter.