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Proposed sales tax election for Business Loop postponed

Business Loop Community Improvement District board members decided to postpone a proposed half-cent sales tax election during a public meeting Monday.

Board members were surprised to learn a single registered voter was living within the CID’s boundary lines.

Jen Henderson, a 23-year-old University of Missouri student, lives on Business 70 West. She would be the sole person to vote on the proposed sales tax that would go toward improvement projects along Business Loop 70.

Cris Burnam, a CID board member, said the purpose of the meeting Monday was to make clear to voters their intentions regarding the sales tax.

“It’s difficult to reach out and contact just one individual person,” he said. “We are a public board and we have to operate as a public board. So we have to inform not just one voter, we have to inform the entire public of what we’re doing at any given time.”

The proposed half-cent sales tax would generate more than $200,000 dollars annually for the district, but it must be first approved by voters.

“At any point they can decide whether or not to hold an election,” said Robert Hollis, attorney for the Business Loop CID. “Depending whether or not you have registered voters within the boundaries, and if you don’t, the property owners are the voters.”

Henderson attended the public meeting Monday morning, but did not have any comment for the media.

Other concerned citizens fielded questions to board members regarding the way they want to generate money for the district.

Carrie Gartner, CID Executive Director, said it’s best to improve public space with tax dollars because there are rules and accountability that come along with it.

Gartner said they would like to make living near the Business Loop more attractive. She gave adding more crosswalks as an example for improvements to the area.

Longtime Parkade Subdivision resident Steven Skolnick said he supports the CID’s proposed sales tax.

“Myself and my neighbors are very excited about the positive changes on the Business Loop and the creation of the CID,” he said. “I feel that it’s very important for our neighborhood in terms of public safety and property values.”

Skolnick said he was frustrated by the board’s decision to postpone the election. After living near the Business Loop for nearly 30 years, he’s seen the best and worst from the area.

“I’ve watched the crime rates go up in the Business Loop,” he said. “I’ve watched good businesses move away and say they’re too concerned about the safety of their employees. I’ve watched buildings be deserted and deteriorate.”

Another option to avoid an election with Henderson would be to redraw the CID’s boundary lines along the Business Loop to exclude her address. But board members say that would take too much time and money.

Burnam said the CID is already more than $100,000 dollars in debt from start up costs in April.

“We’ll always consider those kinds of things, but I think it’s highly unlikely,” he said. “And everybody that’s in our district is there for a purpose – they’re all stakeholders – we want them all. So I don’t see that as being an option.”

Burnam said the board will continue to advocate for the Business Loop and keep communication open with Henderson.

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