Residents Offer Input on Airport Expansion

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COLUMBIA - Residents offered their opinion Sunday on a lodging tax increase to fund expansion of Columbia Regional Airport. Airport terminal concepts were presented on January 3rd at the city council meeting. The council will discuss the possibility of increasing the lodging tax at Tuesday's upcoming city council meeting. The decision to increase the lodging tax is up to voters.

"I think Columbia has to expand the airport, and I think they need to make the effort to do it.  I think it's essential for the well-beng of the city," said Columbia resident Becky Sterling.

"I think that a viable airport would be good for the region and I think it would be a good idea," said Columbia resident Scott Forrest.

However, there's a catch.  This new terminal would cost an estimated $17 million dollars.

The report that will be presented at the upcoming meeting said the four percent tax brought in $1,939,309. If the tax was raised to seven percent, that could bring in almost $3.4 million. The report also said the increased tax would pay for the bonds to build the new terminal.

Nathan Rigsby works at Columbia's Super 8 Motel.  He said expanding the airport could benefit the city, but not Super 8.

"Probably not the Super 8 because there are so many high-end hotels around here and I feel like most people that are going to fly in are going to get a nicer one," said Rigsby.

He said guests never comment or question the city's current four percent tax, and he doesn't think that would change with a three percent increase.