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BUSINESS UNFRIENDLY: CoMo events entrepreneur details McDavid Administration hypocrisy

A 7,500% fee increase overnight

COLUMBIA, Mo 03/13/15 (Beat Byte) -- "I wanted to let you know of a crazy cost-of-doing-business increase that the City of Columbia has placed on local events,"
writes UltraMax Sports owner Mark Livesay  

City-imposed permit fees on one of Columbia's largest running events have spiked 7,500% -- that's seven thousand five hundred percent -- "overnight," Livesay told the Heart Beat. 

But how can that be, with a Mayoral administration under Dr. Robert McDavid that has touted its "business-friendly" attitude since he took office five years ago.  Among McDavid's "pro-business" policies:  the IBM tax incentives; Blight and "Enhanced Enterprise Zone" (EEZ) status; Tax Increment Financing (TIF); and thousands of student apartments. 

"It's all about jobs," Mayor McDavid says.  "We need to be pro-business to compete with all those other cities." 

Or not. 

A Columbia-based event company that also owns a retail running store downtown, Ultramax used to pay "a simple permit fee that cost $30-50" to host running events on city trails.  "That was fine, and I do agree it actually could have been a bit higher," Livesay explained.   

But Ultramax got a huge shock to its bottom line when the McDavid Administration
"changed the permit structure to a per user fee," Livesay explains.  

"We host one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- running events that brings 1,500 to 2,000 people to Columbia," Livesay said.  
"Under the new system, we now pay $1.50+ per participant.   So our trail usage fees went from $40 to up to $3,000 overnight!"  

That "crazy percentage level of increase" -- 7,500% -- is counterproductive, Livesay says.  "This running event brings tons of revenue to the city, and we like to have part of the course on the trail to highlight that feature of Columbia."     

How McDavid's administration -- which includes city manager Mike Matthes -- justifies the whopping fee increase Livesay is at a loss to explain. 

"I'm not even sure how it got approved and implemented," he said.  


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