Improvements on the way for Business Loop 70

There is already one CID dedicated to improving the downtown area.
Photo of Business Loop 70 Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Columbia, Mo.

Higher taxes could be in Columbia’s future, but not for the whole city.

Businesses located along Business Loop 70 have successfully submitted a petition to form a Community Improvement District. The primary function of a CID is to form an independent taxing entity.

Columbia already has one CID downtown, commonly referred to as “The District” by city officials and the official downtown website. The businesses located downtown went through a similar process in 2011, according to the District's website.

Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser said she supports the creation of another CID.

“This is an area of our community that needs improvement and there’s a lot of potential to increase Columbia’s economic viability,” she said.

Nauser also said it is important for the people of Columbia to voice their opinions on this issue.

“They’re the ones paying the extra tax,” she said.

To form a CID, businesses must gather the proper signatures and submit that petition to the City Council. Then the council votes to decide whether they think the particular area would benefit from becoming a CID. After the council approves, the proposal goes to the public for a vote.

Taxes would go to help fund projects that the CID deems necessary. Potential projects could be anything from beautification to supplementing funding on city projects.

The major focus of projects in the District are “beautification, streetscape enhancements, economic development, clean and safe programs, marketing and communications,” according to its website.

If the Business Loop gets approved, the city would still contribute to infrastructure projects, such as repaving sidewalks and burying power lines.

The Business Loop CID is still in the beginning stages, as city council validated the petition on March 2. The proposed CID still has a long way to go before they can become an independent taxing entity. Despite this, there is support for the proposal within the city council.

Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp said the importance of creating a CID hinges on the fact that “(The Business Loop) functions as the ‘downtown’ for parts of the Second Ward.”

With the potential creation of a CID and Mizzou North opening and museums opening it’s a real opportunity for the Parkade Neighborhood, just north of there, to have more walkable destinations, Trapp said.

One of the projects he said he hopes the CID will focus on is finishing out the sidewalks in that area.

While the Columbia Chamber of Commerce has no official stance on the issue, President Matt McCormick said, “(we) support anything that would improve the traffic flow and customer service in that area.”

McCormick said it is important to improve the overall shopping experience of customers and potentially increase revenue for businesses in that area.

The desire for change began when True Media bought the old Commerce Bank and buried the power lines, along with other remodels. Dave Griggs of Flooring America has been a supporter of this for a long time but True Media “got the movement started to improve the area,” Trapp said.

If the proposed CID passes, the council and Mayor Bob McDavid would appoint a board of local business owners and other people with vested interest in the area. The CID Board would make decisions about projects and how funds raised will be spent.

If the proposed CID fails to pass in front of the council or the public vote, Nauser said she hopes the city will continue moving forward on infrastructure projects, including completing and refinishing sidewalks and grounding power lines.

Because the largest financial impact is on consumers and not the city, Nauser said “(it’s) important for voters to be informed and for people to call their council.”

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