City officials look to use private funds to hire firm

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COLUMBIA - A decision to not hire a retail firm isn't stopping some city officials.

The city council rejected bringing in Retail Strategies at Monday's meeting, listing two main reasons:

  • private funds, not public tax dollars, should fund private development
  • encourage local business growth rather than promote additional retail business
"The overall plan was good," deputy city manager Tony St. Romaine said. "We will continue to pursue options to hire this firm."
Among the options are CID (Community Improvement District), REDI (Regional Economic Development Inc.) and the Chamber of Commerce are private groups that endorsed hiring the firm. 
"If those three are willing to step up to the plate and support it, we think it is a very worthwhile effort," St. Romaine said.
Had city council members approved the hiring, the firm would be funded by $100,000 in city taxes, including $48,000 in the first year.