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REVEALED: CoMo Chamber team behind Mayor's tax hike for cops

Will voters say "Yes" to unpopular Mayor's whopping tax hike? 

COLUMBIA, Mo 9/18/14 (Beat Byte) --  The job of selling Columbia Mayor Bob McDavid's property tax increase for more cops has attracted some "usual suspects" from Columbia's establishment business community, aka "The Chamber Crowd." 

Yes for Public Safety (YPS) will spend the next two months pushing the November ballot issue with help from at least four Columbia Chamber of Commerce leaders, filings with the Missouri Ethics Commission have revealed

In YPS leadership roles, including treasurer and secretary:  Hawthorn Bank Columbia market president Matt Williams;  former Chamber chairperson Bob Gerding, a prominent CoMo accountant; and former Chamber and REDI chairperson Vicki Russell, wife of Columbia Daily Tribune publisher Hank Waters,

Returning to lead the political sales team: Chamber ambassador Karen Taylor, an executive vice president at Boone County National Bank better known for leading an effort to install cameras downtown via her political action committee, Keep Columbia Safe.  
 
A January MEC filing showed Taylor's PAC with nearly $10,000 on hand.   Keep Columbia Safe spent $1,700 on website design, domain name registration, and hosting services. 

McDavid's property tax increase is a whopper:  Thirty cents per $100 of assessed value over the next five years.   Compare that to Columbia Public School's 12 cent increase in 2012 and four cent increase this year.    The tax would generate over $5 million every year to pay for more police and firefighters -- at least, in theory. 

In practice, City Hall financial reports show hundreds of millions of dollars idly parked in local banks and investment accounts, which may explain why bankers and accountants are so eager to back a new tax.  

The Mayor's tax has already generated controversy:  McDavid backed off a 20 cent property tax hike last year after resistance from the Columbia Police Officers Association.  This year, that same group balked about supporting the even higher tax, but caved after Yes for Public Safety stepped in. 

Columbia's establishment business, political, and media community frequently labels citizen advocates "the civically obsessed," "usual suspects," "gadflies," and "band of conspiracy theorists."    Ironically, their own numbers show the same level of civic involvement, but more quietly, and backed with far more money.  


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