Work on the proposed city budget for fiscal 2018 will resume Tuesday when the Columbia City Council holds the second of three public hearings on the $455.2 million spending plan. A final hearing and vote is scheduled for Sept. 18.
Key to the debate over the budget is whether and by how much to raise monthly bills for the sanitary sewer, water, electric and solid waste utilities. At an Aug. 23 work session, Mayor Brian Treece expressed frustration about proposals to raise rates by 1 percent to 5 percent. He specifically cited residents’ complaints about the Water and Light Department.
Other fee increases included in the budget include higher costs for reserved and non-reserved parking permits for the Eighth and Walnut Plaza Garage. The additional income would help fund the Parking Utility’s maintenance projects. Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas also has proposed adding 10 cents an hour to the cost of metered parking downtown and $10 for monthly parking permits. He would put the proceeds toward residential parking permit programs near downtown.
The budget also calls for boosting green fees at the city’s two municipal golf courses by $1 on weekdays and $2 on weekends. That would raise $46,600 per year for the Recreation Services Fund.
The council continues to consider whether it’s a good idea to raise the current $2 fare for para-transit rides. City Manager Mike Mike Matthes proposed a $1 increase that would raise $57,000. Council members, however, have discussed eliminating that increase or paring it to 50 cents.
In other action at Tuesday’s meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Daniel Boone City Building, the City Council will:
Consider a request to rezone property on the southwest corner of Providence Road and Forest Avenue to accommodate plans for a coffee shop. While residents have said the coffee shop, which would be across the street from Hickman High School, would be an added convenience for students, faculty and neighbors, some worry about the additional traffic that a proposed drive-thru could bring to the Ridgeway neighborhood.
Hold another public hearing on the intersection improvement plan for Forum Boulevard and Green Meadows Road. After its last interested parties meeting in June, city staff explored several options and has once again settled on a roundabout as the best idea. Neighbors in the past have petitioned against the roundabout, and the council last fall abandoned the plan. The roundabout would cost an estimated $1.16 million.
Hold a public hearing and vote on whether to build a sidewalk along the west side of Oakland Gravel Road between Blue Ridge Road and Edris Drive. The project would cost an estimated $311,500, and construction would begin in the spring.