Officials with the city of Columbia will be taking a hard look at improving infrastructure during budget meetings this year.
In his annual state of the city report , Columbia city manager Mike Matthes said that councilmembers have heard the resounding concerns from residents about sewers, roads and energy systems – especially in light of the quickly expanding downtown developments. Finding the funding for the upgrades will be a priority during the upcoming budget sessions.
“All of our infrastructure is aging,” he said. “We do not have a method to replace it on the cycle time it really needs. So we will be exploring those in more detail this year as we work through the budget process.”
Columbia added $300,000 dollars for street resurfacing and reduced the cycle time to 47 years. Matthes said a property tax increase could make room in the budget to update the infrastructure. It would also provide a more steady stream of revenue for the city.
He also said the city’s violent crime index is the lowest it’s been in 20 years and that although three police officers were added to the force last year, the department still needs more hires.
“Unfortunately we live in a very low tax city in a very low tax state,” he said. “We are across the board and throughout the entire organization 30 percent understaffed. And that’s true in the police department and true in the fire department.
On the jobs front, Matthes says Columbia attracted $7 million dollars in new investment and 225 new jobs.