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Strategic plan calls for more public safety officials, closing wage gap

The Columbia City Manager announced a new strategic plan to city leaders Friday morning.

More police on the streets and a hint at setting a city minimum wage were two high points of the 2016-2019 plan laid out by Mike Matthes.

The plan sets out five main initiatives.

The first will focus on the economy, starting with jobs and minimum wage. The plan sets out to establish a baseline of current living wage jobs, and increase the number of living wage jobs until the baseline is met.

The city has a goal of reducing the minimum wage gap between white and minority households in Columbia by 5% in 3 years, and reducing the skills gap in the labor market by 10% in 3 years.

The second initiative is working on breaking the cycle of poverty within the city, and a third initiative involves a ballot issue to add more police and firefighters to increase public safety.

The city wants to strengthen the community by improving 3 low to moderate income neighborhoods by increasing neighborhood activities, healthy eating habits, active living, access to health care, and participation in outdoor and cultural activities.

It also wants to help 50 low to moderate income first time home buyers achieve home ownership by 2019, and increase the stock of affordable energy-efficient homes in Columbia.

Another main goal of the city is to improve citizen satisfaction with quality of police services by 6%, increase citizen perception of safety by 6%, and increase the coverage area to decrease the number of calls outside the 4 minute travel time by the fire dept. by 6%.

The final two points aim to improve streets, sidewalks, and roads, and to add city staff. Matthes said the city only has 70% of necessary workers.

It plans to do that by improving transit ridership through focus of resources on key demographic areas, and making sure all roads are complete.

The city wants to maintain natural areas with diverse habitats by a certain number of acres per 1,000 people.

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