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Parks and Recreation sales tax coming up for renewal

Columbia officials are reviewing the city’s future park projects, and that includes an $18 million to-do list, paid for with a sales tax.

The tax can only be used on parks and recreation projects. Columbia residents are already paying this tax, but it’s coming up for a renewal. Over the past five years it’s generated around $12 million for parks and recreation.

“This is a one-eighth cents extension of our existing sales tax, so there would be no increase in the current sales tax rate. This is just a renewal of an already in place tax. It’s been in place for a long time and our parks department utilizes that one-eighth cents,” said Tony St. Romaine, deputy city manager for Columbia.

The sales tax renewal would last for six years and will bring in an estimated $18.4 million for the city. Parks and recreation would use a portion of the money to maintain current areas.

“If you look at the feedback that we got from the public on that survey. They felt that we ought to shift more dollars into the maintenance to make sure that we really keep up with the quality of the parks that we already have,” said St. Romaine.

Parks and recreation would spend around $6 million on 26 parks around town. Improving everything from baseball fields to playground equipment and park shelters.

“Parks and trails and community recreation are things that people in this community value and we think that the the projects this six year renewal will fund will be projects that the community will get behind,” said St. Romaine.

The rest of the $18.4 million from the dedicated tax would go toward land acquisition, new facilities, park development and trails.

The city council will vote in August to put the sales tax renewal on the November ballot for voters.

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