- Written by Heart Beat Staff
A staggering array of increases
COLUMBIA, Mo 1/6/16 (Beat Byte) -- Citizens wondering how Columbia became the state's highest cost of living city after low costs landed it on so many "best places" lists need look no further than Columbia Public Schools (CPS) and Columbia City Hall.
School Board Members -- and voters -- passed seven property tax increases in the last seven years, cranking up rents, housing costs, business expenses, and consumer prices, as the tax increases are passed along.
Even more relentless, Columbia city manager Mike Matthes and the City Council have approved a staggering array of fee, rate, fine, and tax hikes since he took office in 2011. City Hall has a monopoly on most utilities, parking, and dozens of other services, and a huge impact on consumer costs.
Voters go to the polls in April to express satisfaction -- or dissatisfaction -- with this status quo, as City Council Members Ian Thomas and Karl Skala seek re-election; and CPS seeks one of the highest property tax increases in decades.
This two-part series spells out year-by-year City Hall hikes that have added tens of millions of dollars to city coffers from citizen pockets and pocketbooks.
Despite contrary rhetoric about ending "economic inequality" (Matthes' so-called "strategic plan") many of the increases fall disproportionately on low income people (rental unit inspection fees, Health Department fees, etc.)
Percentages and dollar figures are included when spelled out in the city manager's Budget, at the links on each date.
2012 CoMo City Hall Hikes
1) Garbage rates
2) Water rates
3) Sewer Rates
4) Health department food handler card fees
5) Bus fares, with reduced bus service
6) Park use fees
7) Recreation fees
8) Ended city support for school crossing guards
2013 CoMo City Hall Hikes
1) Garbage rates
2) Electric rates by 1.5%
3) Water rates by 5%
4) Sewer rates by 15%
5) Utility connection fees
6) City parking garage permit fees
7) Building permit fees
8) Building plan review fees
9) Rental unit inspection fees
10) Tattoo parlor inspection fees
11) Restaurant and food service inspection fees
12) Recreation fees
These twelve increases to bring in $12.3 million MORE, a roughly 6% increase in total city revenue
2014 CoMo City Hall Hikes
1) Business license fees
2) Health Department service fees
3) Park use fees
4) Parking fees
Overall, increases to bring in $5.9 million MORE, a roughly 2.5% increase in city revenue.
Next up: City Hall Hikes for 2015-16