Columbia leaders discuss possible public safety tax

COLUMBIA, Mo. - After a recent crime spike, Columbia city leaders are talking about a possible public safety tax to pay for 50 more police officers.

For the first time, leaders revealed numbers they say support the need for a new property tax.

With the draft proposal as it's written, it would be a six cent increase over five years to reach 30 cents for every $100 of assessed value.

That means in five years, the city's share of property tax would be 71 cents instead of 41 cents as it is currently.

This means the average homeowner would pay $95.82 more per year, $7.99 more a month and 26 cents more per day.

Calls for service per officer have increased more than six percent in the last four years.

Not only does the department say it needs 50 more officers to keep up with the rising number of calls, but also 10 more civilian employees.

Typically, there should be one officer per 1,000 residents.

The city said that number is in steady decline.

The total price tag for the 50 additional officers is roughly $5 million.

City leaders said the initial cost of hiring one officer is an estimated $100,000. That includes salary, equipment and a car, so that would not be a fully recurring cost for the city.

The increase in property taxes would also pay for 22 additional firefighters.

The shortage of firefighters has meant an increase in response times. In 2009, 8.5 percent of calls had greater than a four minute response time.

As of last year, that percentage is up more than 12 percent.

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