Some downtown advisers concerned about bond issue

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to put an electric bond on the ballot in April. 

The bond would be used to improve infrastructure throughout the city. 

"Columbia Water and Light is requesting the bond issue to pay for some very expensive projects we have coming up," said Columbia Water and Light spokesperson Connie Kacprowicz. "By borrowing the money through bonds we're able to pay for those over time so there's not as much of a rate increase for our current customers as well as future customers, help pay for those improvements that they'll be benefiting from." 

The Downtown Leadership Council, or DLC, has been working with the city council to advise them what to do about infrastructure issues and improvements. 

Some DLC members are concerned about charging the public for these improvements. 

"The least favorable of our recommendations was for the public to increase what they pay to the city," DLC co-chair Brent Gardner said. 

Gardner said other options should be explored so that the public's rates don't have to increase. 

The bond would raise $63 million dollars and mean a 6 percent rate increase for consumers. 

Kacprowicz said Columbia would have to raise the cash through rates if the bond issue doesn't pass. 

"We're talking about over $60 million of projects so that would require a 20-25 percent rate increase over the next several years," said Kacprowicz. 

Gardner said the bond issue seems like a "knee-jerk reaction." 

"It's a quick way for government to raise funds, it's painless for the city government, it solves a problem but we felt there were other ways to solve those issues," Gardner said.