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Confusion amounts surrounding Columbia park sales tax vote

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Some Columbia residents expressed confusion toward the language on the special election ballot, so ABC 17 reached out to the Parks and Recreation Department for an explanation on the vote.

The city's park sales tax is up for renewal in a Nov. 2 special election. The current park sales tax is a quarter-cent, which generates an estimated $6 million in revenue that can only be spent on capital improvement projects for local parks. Absentee ballots can be requested online at this link.

Wednesday at 5 p.m. was the deadline to request a mailed absentee ballot for November's special election in Columbia. Those who qualify for absentee voting can vote in person before Nov. 2 at the Boone County Clerk's office. Everyone else can vote in person at the clerk's office or find another polling location using their website.

The park sales tax is broken up into halves. Half of the tax, an eighth-cent, is permanent. This half supports the Parks and Recreation Department in purchasing new land and paying off debt from previously purchased land.

The other half is renewed via public vote. It was last renewed in 2015. This half funds capital improvement projects, which could be maintenance, renovation or development of local parks. According to the City of Columbia website, the tax has funded projects including green space preservation, maintaining and improving existing parks and developing new parks and trails.

"By voting yes, you’re extending the 1/8 cent for 10 more years," said Mike Griggs with the Columbia Parks and Recreation Department. "So a vote for yes will bring it back up to one-quarter cent for the park sales tax."

ABC 17 crews went to Downtown Columbia to ask residents what they think of the ballot. Andrew Seman said he didn't understand the question the first time he read it.

"At first glance probably not, I probably would not have voted for it, but after it being explained I would go for it," Seman said.

The vote is not to raise the tax or to create a new one, Griggs explained, it's an extension of the current tax.

"This is a renewal on the ballot issue, so it's not a new tax," Griggs said. "It’s just extending the tax that we already have that’s scheduled to expire in March of ’22."

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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