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Columbia City Council examines downtown infrastructure payment options

columbia pre-council meeting
Kelly Skehen

Columbia is not issuing any building permits until a payment option for downtown infrastructure expansion is decided upon. The construction stall applies to Collegiate Housing Partners. They’re planning for a 350-bed student apartment complex near Fifth Street and Conley Avenue. 

The Columbia City Council was presented with 4 potential payment possibilities in lieu of the previously discussed tax increment financing district, or TIF, on Monday night at a pre-council meeting.

The hotly debated-upon Scenario A includes various tax ballot initiatives and utility rate increases. Mayor Bob McDavid noted the Boone County Fire Department and Columbia Public Schools have already committed to adding their own taxes to the November ballot.

“There are tons of taxes that are coming up on the ballot that they have to consider before city council adds any to the ballot," McDavid said. "It’s going to permeate the airwaves. There will be a perception of increase."

McDavid is more in favor of Scenario B. This option passes a lot of infrastructure improvement costs off to new developers. McDavid said he wants to figure out how much money new developers will be making to see how much they can contribute to the infrastructure needs.

“I want to know how much money they’re going to bring to the table," McDavid said. "If they’re going to bring enough money, they’re going to fix it. Alright? Let’s fix it.”

Scenario C would postpone half of the capital improvement program, or CIP, projects for 5 years. Current CIP projects are largely made up of road and sidewalk improvements throughout Columbia.  According to the plan presented at the pre-council meeting, this would create the necessary funds for infrastructure improvement.

The last option, Scenario D, would add only one combined tax, potentially a sales tax, to the November ballot rather than the 3 taxes proposed in Scenario A.

The council is attending a 2-day retreat next week. A major topic of discussion will be funding of city infrastructure. 

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