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Chamber of Commerce reveals local agenda focusing on voter priorities

The Columbia Chamber of Commerce revealed its local agenda for the 2018 year Wednesday morning that includes working toward a more comprehensive public safety plan.

It has laid out a list of state priorities in the past but this is only the second year it has established local ones. This year’s features goals similar to its inaugural list, including working toward a more comprehensive plan for public safety.

Listed below are the Columbia chamber’s priorities for 2018.

Convene interested parties to develop a comprehensive plan for public safety. continue to advance efforts to complete the Columbia Regional Airport terminal project. Encourage city council to align city budget with citizen identified priorities. Continue to work with City Council to support the outcome of ballot measures as proposed and approved by the voters. Support policies that encourage local private development of workforce and affordable housing.

The priorities have been refined from 2017, but they’re all the same except the one relating to the city budget. According to Chamber of Commerce President Matt McCormick, the business community felt like the budget didn’t always reflect citizens’ top priorities.

“We want to be able to work with and encourage the city to make sure as they’re going through that budget process that what those top priorities in the budget are are also what the top priorities are from the community,” said McCormick.

City leaders said Wednesday that because voter approved tax increases for parks and rec and street projects have to come first, flexibility within the budget is limited.

“I think we have to be very judicious as decision makers and as a city council making sure that every dollar is spent wisely and that we’re making those strategic investments in public safety and infrastructure as the voters want,” said Mayor Brian Treece.

The Chamber of Commerce did raise concerns in the spring about some voter-approved projects not getting done according to plan.

“Part of our strategic plan is to be the voice of business and we (had been) hearing from our businesses that there’s been a disconnect there,” McCormick said.

But the city did step up and McCormick said he applauded their willingness to get the ball rolling on some of those stagnant projects so quickly.

The Chamber of Commerce will come out with state legislative priorities in a few months.

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