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Columbia City Council discusses COVID-19 and budget


The effects of COVID-19 on the fiscal 2021 budget was among the topics taken up Monday by the Columbia City Council.

The council met at 5 p.m. for the pre-council meeting to begin discussions about the fiscal 2021 budget, which begins Oct. 1. The regular council meeting begins at 7 p.m. A COVID-19 update is on the regular meeting agenda.

Watch a replay of the health director's COVID-19 presentation below

The agenda for the budget discussions includes information about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the main concerns about the budget include challenges facing trash collection, the need to move toward stabilizing the balance between property tax and sales tax, capital project funding with lower sales tax, and more.

Watch a replay of the budget discussion below

The city is looking at several options for increasing revenue. One option is to increase business license fees, which have not been changed since 1964.

The city is also looking at implementing several taxes, including a public safety tax to fund police and fire, a use tax to collect money from out-of-state vendors, and a public health tax.

"With respect to a use tax, I think we finally have the framework for a potential agreement in the future with some of the constituencies and decision makers in Jeff City," said Columbia Mayor Brian Treece.

Treece also said he would like to see an audit done before working to pass any new taxes.

The city currently has $16.5 million in reserves. Both Treece and city council member Matt Pitzer voiced support for dipping into the funds if needed as a result of the pandemic.

Police Chief Geoff Jones said it is not as clear how the pandemic will impact each department in the next fiscal year.

"As revenues go down we have to figure out ways to limit our expenditures. We have to look at everything, including personnel, so I don't know how it's going to impact us yet but we have to just look at what we have and try to be as responsible as we can in projecting what we're going to be spending," he said.

The council did not vote on the budget Monday night, but will at a later date after a finalized version of the budget has been drafted.

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Sydney Olsen

Sydney Olsen reports in the evenings during the week and on the weekend.


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