Columbia city leaders are facing several challenges as they finalize next year’s budget. That includes a continuing decrease in sales tax revenue and a university that just announced millions of dollars in budget cuts, layoffs as well as a drop in enrollment.
“These problems will have a noticeable, negative impact on Columbia’s economy as a whole,” said City Manager Mike Matthes during the annual State of the City address Wednesday. “What do these problems mean to city government? Well, we have and will continue to have a serious revenue problem.”
Total undergraduate enrollment at Mizzou dropped 6.8 percent from the Fall 2015 to Fall 2016 semesters. As of May, 4,009 freshman students had submitted their deposits for the Fall 2017 semester, making it the smallest freshman class in at least the past decade.
Matthes said the drop in enrollment will mean less students shopping in Columbia and renting apartments or houses.
“The student housing boom is over, for now,” he said. “Thank goodness we had a pause in that development.”
Matthes also noted the more than 300 positions being eliminated at the university having an impact on the city’s economy.
Mayor Brian Treece compared the jobs cuts at Mizzou to a major factory closing in Columbia. Treece told ABC 17 News he met with university leaders recently to brainstorm ways to work together to build an economic development relationship.
“We need to reinvigorate the university and keep bright minds here,” he said.