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Hotel tax increase passes in Columbia

Columbia voters approved a one percent hotel tax increase to fund improvements and renovations to the Columbia Regional Airport Tuesday night.

The tax will now increase from 4 to 5 percent. According to city leaders, Columbia needed to prove it could first raise the funds for the new airport before the FAA would match any monetary amount.

Supporters gathered at the Broadway Hotel Tuesday night. Those supporters included Columbia Mayor Brian Treece, former Mizzou Athletic Director Mike Alden, former mayor Bob McDavid, and members of the Columbia city council.

The Foundation for Columbia’s Future, the political action committee that has been educating on behalf of the tax for about a month, had its co-chairs in attendance. Jackie Jones and Greg Steinhoff attended until the race was called.

“This is a very progressive community. We get ranked nationally all the time like for best places to live,” said Steinhoff. “To have one of the 10 worst airports in America does not match. I think citizens looked at that and said ‘it is time to do something, this is not indicative of our community,'”

Supporters of the tax have said the lodging tax, which funds tourism efforts in the city, is appropriate to fund the airport because they feel the airport as a whole falls under the category of “economic development.”

Opponents of the tax have questioned this logic, saying the city doesn’t have the data to back up its claim that the airport benefits tourism.

Opponents also decried the city’s use of the tax money, saying the city is misusing funds meant solely for tourism.

If the vote passes, the tax will last at most 23 years. If the total amount is reached before that time, the tax will automatically expire.

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