Since 2011, raising rates, fees, and fines 43 times
COLUMBIA, Mo 1/8/16 (Beat Byte) -- The New Year will bring more of the same from Columbia city government: rate, fine, and fee hikes that will swell city coffers to well over $250 million if current trends hold.
Since he took office in 2011, city manager Mike Matthes has persuaded City Council members to pass a total of forty three (43) increases in critical consumer services such as water, sewer, electric, parking, and garbage utilities. Part one of this series describes the first 24.
City Hall has a monopoly on most city services, and a huge impact on consumer costs. Columbia's cost of living is now the highest in the state.
City government also collects nearly one dozen taxes, including property taxes; sales taxes for general services, capital improvements, parks, and transportation; hotel/motel taxes; utility bill taxes; cigarette, gasoline, and motor vehicle taxes.
Here's a rundown on the 19 rate, fee, and fine hikes for 2015-16, with links to each city budget.
2015 CoMo City Hall Hikes
1) Sewer rates up 6%
2) Electric rates up 2.5%
3) Water tap fees
4) Water meter fees
5) Water backflow prevention fees
6) Surface parking, up $5/month
7) Parking fines, up $5.
8) Parking enforcement hours increased
9) Landfill fees up 8%
10) Commercial garbage rates, up 10%
11) Roll-off dumpster rates, up 10%
12) Downtown garbage rates, up 10%
13) Reduced distribution of black garbage bags, from 75 to 50 per year, a "backdoor" solid waste rate hike. The reduction has had a perverse effect, increasing trash collection labor as more people put multiple smaller kitchen and household trash bags on the street.
2016 CoMo City Hall Hikes
1) Stormwater fees, up 25%
2) Commercial garbage rates
3) Landfill fees
4) Surface parking lot permits, up $5/month
5) Parking garage space up $10/month
6) Speeding fines up $10.
This year, rate and fee hikes will bring in another $9.9 million, raising city revenues by 4.1% over 2015. Since 2011, the 43 hikes have added millions to the city's cash on deposit in local banks.
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.
PART 1: 24 RATE, FEE, FINE INCREASES FROM 2012-14