Boone County Democrat organization debates Proposition 2

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COLUMBIA - The Boone County Democratic Party's "Muleskinners" hosted a debate of Proposition 2 Friday.

Karl Skala, Columbia Ward 3 councilman, and Brian Toohey, CEO of the Columbia Board of Realtors, debated both sides of Proposition 2.

If passed, Proposition 2 would change Columbia's current development charge for new construction. The proposition would create a tiered system of evaluation for different kinds of construction projects, but all of which would be higher than the current rate of 50 cents per square foot. The new rate for residential construction would become $1 per square foot, and the rates for non-residential would become $1.50 per square foot for low-traffic construction and $2.00 per square foot for high-impact or high traffic construction. An example of high-impact would be the construction of a gas station as that building would draw more people to it.

"The main point I'm trying to get across is that Proposition 2 is going to increase costs inside the city of Columbia," Toohey said.

Toohey argues that the increase in development charges would cause businesses to not want to relocate to Columbia, or even build their businesses outside city limits in order to avoid the development charge.

"Whatever the business community, or the development community does not provide, the rest of the folks have to pick up the tab," Skala said. "And that's what we've been doing for many, many years, and it's a skewed relationship."

Skala said it is unlikely for businesses to want to build outside the city because it would be responsible for the entire cost of roads and construction whereas in the city, roads are subsidized under Columbia taxes.

The funding gathered by this increase in development charge could only be used for new roads, so it would not be able to be used to improve already existing roads.