Hotel tax increase, vehicle tax removal could make August ballot

1 year 5 months 2 weeks ago Monday, May 02 2016 May 2, 2016 Monday, May 02, 2016 2:47:00 PM CDT May 02, 2016 in News
By: Max Diekneite, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council is set to review two tax proposals that could make the August 2 ballot - one that would call for a tax increase, and another that would abolish a current tax. 

Monday night, the city council will decide whether to include a measure on the August 2 ballot that would increase the city's hotel tax from four to five percent. The money from the tax would go toward the Airport Terminal Improvement Project. If voters decided to pass the tax, the city projects it would bring in about $500,000 a year in revenue. 

Megan McConachie, the marketing & communications manager for Columbia's Convention and Visitors Bureau, said while the tax should eventually help Columbia's economy, it might upset some visitors in the short-term. 

"There's always, there can always be negative impacts of raising the price of anything. There may be some groups that don't necessarily want to come here because the tax has gone up a little bit," McConachie said. 

Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick said this tax is needed in order to complete the airport project, because before the city can get federal funds, it has to show that it raised money of its own.

"To get that federal funding, we have to be able to show a match, we have to do a match, and we have to be able to show we have those mechanisms in place to have our local match, so we have the ability to even apply for those federal funds," McCormick said.   

The city council will also review a proposal to abolish the current tax on out-of-state sales of motor vehicles, trailers, boats and outboard motors. In 2013, the state legislature passed a bill which requires cities without a use tax in place prior to August of that year - Columbia falls under this category - must receive voter approval by November of 2016 to continue the vehicle tax. In short, Columbia voters must vote in favor of the continuation of the tax by November, or else it will be abolished. 

Jenny Freeman, a Columbia driver who purchased her car in Kansas to save money, said she thinks it's wrong to punish car drivers for finding a better deal out-of-state. 

"I don't agree with it, at all. I think if you - in my case I bought my car in Kansas, and I paid the Kansas tax on it - and I shouldn't have to, even though I live in Missouri, I shouldn't have to pay the gap difference," Freeman said. 

The city estimates the tax brings in more than $500,000 annually for the city. 

Monday night, the city council will decide whether these two tax measures make the ballot in August. 

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