Columbia city council to consider TIF district proposal

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The future of downtown development in Columbia is dividing city leaders. Some want a tax increment financing district, or TIF, to help pay for much needed infrastructure upgrades. The issue is set to go before city council Monday night.

A TIF district means sales and property tax rates would freeze for up to 23 years. The money that would have come in would go immediately toward paying for those needed infrastructure upgrades.

The proposal has had a lot of opposition, especially from Boone County leaders.

But Ward 2 Councilman Michael Trapp said it's too early to make a choice.

"I think until we see the cost benefit analysis that a lot of criticism is premature," he said. "I think the opposition to this is more than just an opposition to a TIF. It has become an opposition to increasing density downtown altogether."

Trapp said the county needs to be on board if there's going to be any success with any downtown project.

"Columbia is the largest stakeholder in Boone County and our success is very much tied together and just as well with the school district," he said.

The resolution that will go before the council has a list of nearly $20 million worth of projects classified as immediate needs: water, sewer, electric and storm water issues.

Another $50 million would go toward future projects, like street improvements and other infrastructure.

But the opposition wants the city to find the money elsewhere to fund these projects.

Trapp said he and some other council members think a TIF may be the only option.

"I think a majority of us will prevail to say there's no other alternatives to fund these projects besides a TIF district," he said.

Monday's vote to pursue a TIF district is just one step. But some businesses downtown said they don't even want the city to start down that road.

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