Mayor Withdraws Property Tax Support

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COLUMBIA - Mayor Bob McDavid confirmed Wednesday he has withdrawn his support for an increase in property taxes aimed to increase police funding and staffing.

Late Tuesday night, the mayor posted, "Based on comments made by the Columbia Police Officers Association, I no longer support an increase in property tax to fund an increase in police staffing," on his Facebook page.

The mayor told KOMU 8 News it is hard to support this tax when the police department itself does not endorse it. Still, McDavid has doubts about the funds the police officers association says are already available to pay for more police.

"The Columbia Police Officers Association believes it found 3.5 million dollars to fund more police officers.  I fear that they are wrong and I fear that the money is not there," McDavid said. 

McDavid went on to explain the money is probably not there, citing the work of professionals the city hires to go over the budget.  McDavid said it would be hard for an outside group like the police association to find that much extra money.

McDavid went through the cost of adding one police officer.

"It costs $100,000 per year per police officer, including salary, benefits, retirement and equipment," said McDavid. 

He made note how it has been almost four weeks since the last shooting incident and that the suspects who were involved in those incidents have been caught. 

McDavid said, "Given [the Columbia Police's] limited resources, I believe they are doing a great job."

He also attributed his decision to the economic constraints many of the residents of Columbia are facing, saying there was little support of this property tax increase to begin with.

The tax is on the agenda for the Columbia City Council meeting Monday. At that time, the council could decide whether to add the property tax to the November ballot.  There is also an open budget process for the next two months when people can stop in to give their opinions about the city's budget and what they feel could be done to save money.