The number two man at City Hall champions another unpopular cause
COLUMBIA, Mo 8/18/13 (Beat Byte) -- In unprecedented public opposition to the Mayor, a Columbia city administrator with one of the most unpopular policy track records in recent memory has become the leading advocate for a property tax increase to pay for more police officers.
Deputy city manager Tony St. Romaine disagrees with Mayor Bob McDavid, who dropped his support for the tax hike after it proved both unpopular, and according to the Columbia Police Officers Association, unnecessary.
St. Romaine and city manager Mike Matthes say property taxes are relatively low in Columbia and the public can easily afford the increase.
St. Romaine -- who took his fight for higher taxes to the media this weekend -- is no stranger to unpopular policy positions and the controversies that follow.
He has championed red light cameras, Garagezilla, the Tiger Hotel TIF, use of a $3 million city reserve to buy "shovel ready" land for private developers, and a taxpayer subsidy for the disability-unfriendly Columbia Star Dinner Train.
The tax increase is likely to prove equally unpopular. Most constituents are opposed to it, said 4th Ward Councilman Ian Thomas in a Missourian interview.
But that's not stopping St. Romaine, who says he intends to press forward at Monday night's Council meeting, when Council members will vote for or against putting the hike on November's ballot.
"City staff believes increasing the property tax rate would be the best way of generating new funds to pay for police officers," he told the Columbia Daily Tribune.