Boone County Policy Makers Breakfast

Folgers got it all wrong. The best park of waking up isn’t coffee. It’s a Policy Makers Breakfast at the Boone County Commission Chambers.

Dan Atwill, Presiding Commissioner of Boone County, opened the meeting by explaining the purpose of this breakfast is to have a dialogue to work smoothly between the different officials in Boone County and Columbia.

The three commissioners of Boone County were in attendance. Including Skip Elkin, Boone County’s District II Commissioner, who is back from serving on active duty with the National Guard.  The breakfast club also included Columbia council members, the mayor, and school board members.

Most of the communication at the meeting involved the construction of infrastructure surrounding Battle High School. The property is in the county but the city is heavily involved. A current issue is the stoplight, now installed but not functioning, at St. Charles Rd. and Battle Ave. The stop light, which is in the county, falls under their control but the county does not have any equipment to maintain a traffic light. No decision was reached how maintenance for the light will be paid for.

Other infrastructure projects include the intersection of Highway Z and St. Charles Rd. where there are plans for the construction of a roundabout with the help of state funds. There was talk of an eventual bridge over I-70 at Olivette. A lot of this presents peculiar problems for Boone County, which never builds roads but just maintains them.

The search for property for a new elementary school in Southwest Columbia continues. Due to storm water regulations the parcel of land would need to be about 30 acres.

City Manager Mike Matthes spoke of how all the parking spaces are now leased in the 5th and Walnut parking garage. He mentioned that since there is a demand it’s possible to raise prices. He also made a comment about the Columbia Regional Airport and how they are very close to some very exciting announcements. The members at the meeting concluded it would be a good idea to come try to make these meetings a quarterly occurrence.

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How did we do that? Gathering data for our coverage of tax-increment financing

“There is terror in numbers. […] Perhaps we suffer from a trauma induced by grade-school arithmetic.”
-Darrell Huff, How to Lie with Statistics

The Missourian has just published a report outlining tax-increment financing, its history in Missouri and plans to increase the practice in parts of the city, including the entire First Ward. This piece was painted, in part, by data obtained through an open records request to the Missouri Department of Economic Development for figures from annual reports filed by cities statewide between 2007 and 2011.

Cities are legally obligated to file these reports, and in 2009 the Missouri General Assembly attempted to beef up enforcement and transparency by instituting a five-year moratorium on creation of new districts for non-compliant cities.

The data cited in the story and provided below constitutes only those reports submitted to the state. We have converted the original Microsoft Access files provided from the department into Excel files, so that they can be opened by Mac and PC users alike. Click the link below to download the desired Excel file (.xls). Your download should open in a new window.

Download 2007 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2008 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2009 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2010 Local TIF Report (.xls)

Download 2011 Local TIF Report (.xls)

If you do not have a copy of Microsoft Excel, the .xls files can alternatively be opened using the open-source (and free to download) program OpenOffice Calc.

To show you how we arrived at the numbers provided in the article, we have also created a Word file (.doc) of query statements used in the MySQL database manager software and the results those queries returned. That download is available below and should open in a new window as well.

SQL audit trail for TIF story (.doc)

If you have any questions about the process of investigating the data or difficulty downloading the files, contact Missourian Public Life reporter Kip Hill via email. As always, thanks for reading!

A look at lodging tax rates around the Southeastern Conference

At last Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Bob McDavid set the gears in motion for a lodging tax rate increase from Columbia’s current 4 percent up to 7 percent. McDavid pointed out what he perceives as drastic shortcomings at the Columbia Regional Airport before discussing the lodging tax, saying that the airport would be up-to-date — if it were 1969. Though the report only suggests using the increased revenue to pay for terminal additions, in consecutive council meetings McDavid has been quick to point out the need for improvements at the airport to attract more flights and business — a conversation that has been going on for the better part of a decade.

City Manager Mike Matthes is also on board to increase the services available at Columbia Regional Airport, which has seen a 250 percent increase in departing traffic and a 246 percent increase in incoming traffic annually since 2008, according to figures from its website. During an interview on KBIA’s weekly “Intersection” program, Matthes said he’d like to see the city add a connecting destinations from the airport in addition to its current flights to Memphis soon.

“I’d love to say it’s going to happen this summer, so I will,” Matthes said in response on the program to a question about new flights. “… That’s what we’re shooting for. I think all the tumblers are in place. We just have to, you know, make it happen.”

Assistant Manager Tony St. Romaine confirmed that Dallas and Chicago are on the table as possible destinations for connecting flights out of Columbia.

The staff report included tax rates for multiple Missouri cities and a national average of 13 percent, but failed to mention how Columbia would stack up to other SEC cities. With Tiger fans traveling to locales such as Gainesville, Fla.; Knoxville, Tenn.; as well as that other Columbia in South Carolina, and with fans flowing in from the universities of Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky this year, the proposed lodging tax rate would make Columbia competitive with several cities in the SEC. Athens, Ga.; Auburn, Ala.; and College Station, Texas all have lodging tax rates of 7 percent, and Baton Rouge, La. and Tuscaloosa, Ala. both have rates much higher than that.

Here’s a list, in descending order, of lodging tax rates in each of the cities the 14 members of the expanded SEC (to be unveiled July 1) call home.

Town (University) Population*; Lodging tax rate

  1. Baton Rogue, La. (Louisiana State University) 229,493; 13 percent
  2. Tuscaloosa, Ala. (University of Alabama) 90,468; 10 percent + $1 per room per night
  3. Athens, Ga. (University of Georgia) 115,452; 7 percent
    Auburn, Ala. (Auburn University) 53,380; 7 percent
    College Station, Texas (Texas A&M University) 93,857; 7 percent
  4. Nashville, Tenn. (Vanderbilt University) 601,222; 6 percent + a $2.50 per room per night charge to fund convention center
  5. Lexington, Ky. (University of Kentucky) 295,803; 6 percent
  6. Gainesville, Fla. (University of Florida) 124,354; 5 percent
  7. Columbia, Mo. (University of Missouri) 108,500; 4 percent (proposed increase to 7 percent)
  8. Columbia, S.C. (University of South Carolina) 129,272; 3 percent
    Knoxville, Tenn. (University of Tennessee) 178,874; 3 percent
  9. Fayetteville, Ark. (University of Arkansas) 73,580; 2 percent
    Starkville, Miss. (Mississippi State University) 23,888; 2 percent
    Oxford, Miss. (University of Mississippi) 18,916; 2 percent

* Population estimates based on 2010 Census figures

Not everyone is in favor of the proposed tax increase, however. Last week, the Columbia Hospitality Association issued a news release arguing against such a substantial increase in the lodging tax. The president of that association, Jevon Jerke, said, “When you raise the rate, even just a few dollars, it really changes how you’re perceived out there.”

What do you think? Should Columbia put 7 on the board to keep up with their new SEC rivals?

The Daily Dish — Oct. 6, 2011

Dudley to discuss wards at library meeting – Columbia Missourian
“Fourth Ward Councilman Daryl Dudley will meet with constituents on ward reapportionment at 4 p.m. Friday in the Friends Room of the Columbia Public Library. Dudley proposed a new version of trail map D at Monday night’s council meeting.”
Habitat for Humanity seeks city annexations for single-family subdivision
Columbia Missourian
“City Council will consider a proposal from Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity on Monday, which requested the city annex 11.72 acres of land for a proposed development of 32 homes near Old Plank Road and Route K. But it wants the city to annex and zone the land for single-family homes first.”
Commission Member Discusses Own Land
KOMU
“Planning and Zoning Commission member Rayman Puri will vote regarding his own land. Puri, a local doctor, would like a medical office built near the intersection of East Broadway and Broadway Bluffs Drive.”

Comprehensive Plan public input meeting tonight

A public forum to discuss the first phase of the development of Columbia Imagined, the city’s new comprehensive plan, is at 6 p.m. tonight at conference rooms 1A & 1B of the City Hall addition.

Tonight’s forum is a repeat for those that missed the April 19 meeting.

Columbia Imagined meeting tomorrow, public forum May 4

The Comprehensive Plan Task Force is meeting at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow at the City Hall Addition Conference Room 1A on 701 East Broadway.

The task force held its first public forum on April 19, to discuss Columbia Imagined, a six-phase planning process for the future growth and development of the city

If you missed the first public forum, a repeat is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 4, in rooms 1A and 1B of the new City Hall addition.

Comprehensive Plan public forum

Columbia’s Comprehensive Plan Task Force is scheduled to hold its first public forum Tuesday, April 19.  The meeting will be held from 6-8 p.m. in City Hall, 701 East Broadway.  The city has invited the public to attend and submit their input on the Comprehensive Plan.

Read more about the Comprehensive Plan and check out the minutes from past meetings of the task force on the city’s website.

The Comprehensive Plan Task Force was created in 2009  to assist the Planning and Zoning Commission in the task of developing a comprehensive plan for the city.