Downtown Columbia Leadership Council Holds Public Hearing About TIF

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COLUMBIA - Tax increment financing, or TIF, has been a hot topic among Columbia residents recently. At Tuesday evening's public hearing, those with concerns got to have their voice heard.

The Downtown Columbia Leadership Council tried to explain some of the more specific details about the TIF and what it could mean for the city.

Council member Randy Gray began the meeting by outlining the areas of downtown that would be changed if the TIF were to be implemented.

The primary areas discussed were Broadway and Providence and Broadway and College and changes would include possibly putting a boulevard along Providence Road an   Talks of re-vamping the North Village Arts District were also discussed in order to reinforce the area's "funky image."

"It's really a matter of if you want to keep growing or stay the same", Gray said. "You don't get a second chance on these things so we have to get it right".

St. Louis Consultant Ken Christian was in attendance to share his experience with TIF when developing the city's Grand Center.

"We created a common vision through community input," he said. "However, sometimes if you try to make everyone happy, you don't get anything done".

The floor was open for questions from the audience, and it did not hold back.

Boone County Assessor Tom Schauwecker asked the council, "Who actually benefits from the TIF? Is beautification more important than educating our children?"

Matthes responded, "To say we're taking dollars away from kids is wrong. What money are we taking? That money does not exist yet."

A resident of the downtown area raised concerns about possible risks for people living in her neighborhood.

"There is a possibility of displacement for residents. If I am displaced, my ability to take care of myself is threatened," she said. "What measures will be taken to protect people like me?"

Tuesday's meeting is not the last chance the public has to learn more about the TIF. More meetings are scheduled to take place in the coming months.