City Council approves city budget, College Ave. crosswalks

Members also heard a report on downtown safety cameras.
Spencer Pearson / Graphic Designer

The Columbia City Council approved the city budget for the coming fiscal year Monday and also voted on funding for new pedestrian medians and crosswalks on College Avenue and an ordinance extending the closed campus boundaries at MU.

The council also discussed a report by Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton on the installation of four new safety cameras in the downtown area.

At the pre-council meeting, Burton gave his report on proposed security cameras. He proposed installing them at four downtown “hotspots”: the corners of Hitt Street and Broadway, Tenth Street and Broadway, Tenth and Cherry streets and Ninth and Cherry streets.

First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz, Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe and Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser voted against a motion to accept the report and begin researching which company and camera would be used in the system. The motion passed 4-3.

“It’s not a good use of funds for the effect and that there are better ways to address crime in those areas than the cameras,” Hoppe said.

Burton said he was hopeful the cameras would deter crime since they would be obvious to the public.

“If you look at all the studies done in the U.K. and in the U.S. there’s a very minimal effect of deterring or solving crimes,” Sturtz said.

Council members also discussed plans to build a grassy median on College Avenue along with two new crosswalks to help with the flow of pedestrians crossing the busy street. The council moved to apply for Columbia's portion of a $2.6 million grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation. Because applications for the grant are due Sept. 30, council members had to move quickly to secure money for their new infrastructure campaign.

Council members also passed an ordinance to restrict traffic on Rollins Street while MU classes are in session. The closed campus zone will be expanded on Rollins between Hitt Street and Tiger Avenue. The ordinance was passed after MU sent a letter to the council requesting the traffic restriction.

The council voted unanimously to pass the budget for fiscal year 2011. The budget makes several budget cuts in anticipation of difficult economic times in 2012 and 2013. When the budget passed, Mayor Bob McDavid shook hands with City Manager Bill Watkins who presented the budget and all new amendments to the council.

“Mr. Watkins, congratulations,” McDavid said. “You have a budget.”

Following recommendations from the Citizens Police Review Board, the council also passed an ordinance changing complaint of police misconduct procedures by a unanimous vote.

After complaint was received under the previous process, Burton could deem that an officer had acted properly, improperly or that there was not enough evidence to prove or disprove the complaint. The new procedure adds a fourth option: that the events of the complaint did not happen or were misconstrued.

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