A majority of the 14 registered voters living in Columbia’s Business Loop Community Improvement District, or CID, have been casting ballots over the past few years.
If the CID board were to pursue a half-cent sales tax increase, these 14 voters could cast the deciding votes. Without voters in the district, property owners could push through the tax hike. After one voter was discovered, the board postponed the election. A recent KBIA investigation revealed an additional 13 voters in the district bringing the total to 14.
Nine of the 13 newly identified residents voted in either 2012 or 2014. The other four registered voters have not voted at all in Boone County, according to records dating back to 1982 from Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren.
One voter, Nari Rajani, manages and lives at the Days Inn on Business Loop 70. He told KBIA he wasn’t aware of the potential sales tax increase, nor did he know that he was one of the voters who could potentially decide the issue. Rajani has voted in the past four general elections. He says he would likely vote if an election were held, though he would need more information on the tax.
Jennifer Henderson, the 23-year-old University of Missouri student previously thought to be the sole voter in the CID, voted in Columbia's most recent election in August.
The revenue from property and sales taxes in a Community Improvement District can be put toward updating crosswalks, lighting, landscaping, and so on. Business Loop 70 has been in need of revitalization, according to many Columbia leaders.
But neighbors to the Business Loop 70 have criticized the CID board for cutting residences out of the district borders. Carrie Gartner, director of the CID, has said without the sales tax increase, most of the plans to improve the beauty and safety of the district can’t be done.