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Posted to City, State and Nation by Wes Duplantier on Nov. 8, 2011 at 9:14 p.m.

Voters approve downtown sales tax in mail vote

A small number of Columbia voters have approved an additional one-half percent sales tax for businesses in the downtown Community Improvement District.

Voters approved the tax 25-15 in an election conducted by mail over the last two weeks, according to results posted on the Boone County Clerk’s website. Ballots were due at 7 p.m. Tuesday and final results were posted moments ago.

Clerk Wendy Noren estimated that about 150 voters who live within the boundaries of the Community Improvement District were eligible to vote in the mail election.

The new tax would add about five cents to the cost of a $10 purchase. Community Improvement District Executive Director Carrie Gartner said in a previous Maneater report that the tax revenue would be used for projects such as the installation of free wireless Internet access and sidewalk recycling bins.

The tax proposal drew criticism from Keep Columbia Free, a local civil liberties group. In a letter posted to the group’s website, group members Eapen Thampy and Mitch Richards said taxes in the downtown area should be lowered and that the proposed improvements are unncecessary. They said tax revenue should instead be used to add more police and fire protection for the district.

The additional sales tax is slated to take effect April 1.

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