Checking Into TDD's
Everyday motorists tackle the busy streets and intersections improved by TDD's, but not all TDD's are legitimate.
"There is at least one district that I know of that has collected taxes without ever making any improvements, so I don't know what they're spending money on but it isn't any tangible improvements," said Craig Van Matre, lawyer.
TDD's enable property owners to increase transportation taxes in specific districts for transportation improvements in the area. But, not everyone is happy with the process. One resident thinks more oversight is needed.
"I think there should be regulations that if the tax is being collected for a specific purpose that it should be used for that specific purpose," said Joe Burkhart, resident.
Columbia has 9 TDD's spread throughout the city with two still pending.Gans Road is the newest location.The TDD will pay $3.2 million toward the construction of an interchange with Highway 63. This is the first TDD in Columbia. While they were designed for transportation, city officials worry about public over site.
"The TDD board meetings are posted and open to the public but generally nobody really pays much attention to them or shows up with them," said Bill Watkins, City Manager.
The fact the sales tax is over-looked may have its advantages for consumers.
"Taxes such as these are easier to pay. Why's that? Because we don't necessarily feel it as another fee coming out of our pocket," said Burkhart.
Since the taxes are state law, they are not voted on by citizens. But, city officials believe local government should have a say, and they'd like to change the system.
"They must get an agreement with the city before being formed by the circuit judge," said Watkins.
According to Watkins most TDD's already have agreements with the city, and he says those agreements help make sure improvements are in fact being made on roads, sewers, and gutters across the city. All TDD's in Columbia are currently set at a half cent sales tax, but according to state law property owners can charge up to 1 cent.
According to Timothy Teddy, the Director of Planning and Development in Columbia, there are nine established TDD's in the city, with two still pending. The locations are as follows: CENTERSTATE, NORTHWOODS, STADIUM CORRIDOR, FAIRVIEW, SHOPPES AT STADIUM, CONLEY ROAD, LAKE OF THE WOODS, GRINDSTONE PLAZA, RAMPART, GANS ROAD AND THE COLUMBIA MALL. Gans Road is the newsest location. Craig Van Matre represents six of the nine TDD's. See the locations of each of these TDD on the map above.