Columbia city manager proposes more police officers, firefighters
COLUMBIA - During a news conference highlighting his 2015 budget proposal Friday, Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes proposed tax increases to help fund more police officers and firefighters.
Matthes estimates spending to be over $420 million and revenue to be just under $400 million for the 2015 budget year. He said the budget is balanced, except for $914,663 to be used in a pension solution.
"2015 is a pivotal moment in time for our own recovery from the economic recession," Matthes said.
According to documents detailing the budget, the major proposed tax increases are a property tax for police officers and firefighters, a utility rate increase and parking fee increase.
If passed by the voters, a five year property tax increase of six cents every $100 of home value for a total increase of about $8 per month for the average homeowner, would provide funding to add 30 police officers and 15 firefighters, as well as equipment for the departments.
The utility rate would also increase for the average monthly customer by $4.26.
Parking fees would increase for both parking permits and meters tickets. Starting October 1, parking permits would increase by $5 a month, and the penalty for parking meter violations would be raised by $5 as well. Enforcement hours would also change to 9 a.m.-7p.m.
The quarter cent sales tax is up for renewal as well. It funds updates to fire equipment and fire stations, add police precincts in municipal service centers and improve roads and sidewalks.
Separate from the budget talks, Matthes said CoMo Connect, the new bus transit system, will begin August 4. Students in grades K-12th will be able to ride the buses for free with a school or state ID, and anyone will be allowed to ride the buses for free in the month of August. Passes can be purchased as a $3 daily pass and online at COMOconnect.org.
Matthes is also proposing giving city employees 2 percent across the board raises. 420 city employees would get the increase.
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