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Columbia City Council unanimously passes budget, includes creation of new department


The Columbia City Council unanimously approved the fiscal year 2024 budget at its Monday night meeting.

The budget totals around $533 million. The approval of the budget includes the creation of a new department: Housing and Neighborhood Services. 

The proposed budget for that department is $1,598,755 with an anticipated budget of $1,486,600. According to city documents, the department will be made up of two divisions, Neighborhood Services and Volunteer Programs. 

The new department would serve as the affiliate for the Columbia Land Trust Organization Boards and Housing Community Development Commission. The Community Development Block Grant would report to the Housing and Neighborhood Services department as well, which would mark a change from Columbia’s current reporting structure. 

This new department will focus on looking at processes to help develop affordable housing and housing services, according to city documents.

Another notable change was a $10 million increase to improve employee salaries.

Columbia expects to generate up to $1 million in marijuana-related taxes. That money contributes to the $10 million budgeted to improve employee salaries if approved by the council. The 3% tax was approved by voters in April and will go into effect in October.

“Of the $10 million budgeted, $5 million will come from the general fund. Revenue from the Use Tax and Marijuana Sales Tax previously mentioned will ease the burden of additional expenses incurred as a result of changes approved by Council,” City Manager De’Carlon Seewood said during his Fiscal Year 2024 Budget message in July. 

City spokeswoman Sydney Olsen said in February that the revenue could go toward expanded social services, public safety, parks and recreation, and transportation. But she

There was also a bit of a stir from at least one speaker Monday night over Ward 1 Councilman Nick Knoth’s new position as a lobbyist for Missouri REALTORS.

“This is about the budget! He (Knoth) needs to refrain from voting tonight on the budget because it involves things that involve his new job. See it does go with the budget. He should not be voting if he does vote you have all completely gone against your oath of office,” the woman said.

When asked about how he would avoid any conflict of interest, Knoth told ABC 17 News, “I will continue to follow the advice of the City's legal counsel and abstain as needed. My role is focused on the state level, and I will not be working on local issues.”

Knoth said he started his new position on Monday, Sept. 11. He previously served as a lobbyist for the Columbia Chamber of Commerce from Dec. 27, 2018-April 23, 2021, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission. He has yet to register with the commission for his new position.

Knoth isn’t the first Columbia city official to work as a lobbyist while in office. Former Columbia Mayor Brian Treece, who served as mayor from 2016-2022 – was a lobbyist for multiple entities from Dec. 19, 2018-July 7, 2022, according to the Missouri Ethics Commission.

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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