Presently, only 15% of true costs covered

By Ian Thomas, 4th Ward Columbia City Councilman

COLUMBIA, Mo 10/21/14 (Op Ed) -- Several areas of Columbia are suffering basement back-ups and sewage overflows, as a result of inflow and infiltration of storm water into the sewer system. At the same time, there is an enormous backlog of maintenance projects, with some neighborhoods being told they will have to wait as many as seven years for relief.

And then there are the questions of how to bill equitably for apartment complexes and commercial buildings that have master meters, and how high the connection fee should be.

It's all part of the ongoing debate over infrastructure, who should pay what, how much, and what's fair.

Columbia's population is growing at 2.5%, adding 3,000 new citizens every year. As a result, we are spending about $10 million/year to build new arterial and collector roads and add capacity to existing roads. The present development charge covers about 15% of that cost, with the other 85% ($8.5 million/year) coming from the taxpayer.

If Proposition 2 passes, the share paid by new development will increase to about 35%, while the taxpayer's contribution will be reduced to about 65%, freeing up precious tax dollars for ongoing road maintenance.
Proposition 2 is not a tax; it is a one time charge that developers will pay on new construction projects. Passage of Columbia Proposition 2 will double the amount paid by new residential development from $0.50 to $1.00 per square foot and introduce rates of $1.50 and $2.00 per square foot for new non-residential development. We need this charge to help pay for the new roads that are needed to handle the increased traffic that serves new development.

For more information about Proposition 2, please visit my web site, where you can download a short presentation, prepared by the Cost Sharing for Quality Roads campaign team:

On Tuesday, November 4th, I hope you will choose to vote "YES" on Proposition 2, to increase the charges paid by new development to fund road expansion in Columbia.

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