Referendum outcome looks favorable

November 8, 2018

As of press time Tuesday evening, Columbus voters had indicated that they support local official’s vision for development by heavily voting in favor of two propositions intended to enhance the economic vitality of the city.

About 65.5 percent of people at the polls filled in the ‘FOR’ bubble for Proposition A, which will reallocate one-tenth of the existing 1-percent sales tax to be used for the newly passed Economic Development Plan; and 62.4 percent voted ‘FOR’ Proposition B, which will take the funds raised from Proposition A up to $425,000 annually to promote the local business economy in Columbus.

One-thousand four-hundred people voted against Proposition A (34.5 percent) and 1,483 (37.4 percent) voted against Proposition B.

At press time, 17 of the 32 Platte County precincts’ votes were counted; or 53.1 percent of the total vote.

Both referendums are required to pass for any action to be taken by the city. Passage of the two propositions wouldn’t add any sort of new sales tax; it simply pulls dollars from the existing 1-percent sales tax implemented by voters in 2016.

The idea of offering economic incentives isn’t new to the Columbus community. In 2006, voters approved an Economic Development Plan that allocated one-tenth of a 1-percent sales tax to generate up to a $300,000 yearly cap. That program ran from 2007-2017.

The new Economic Development Plan, which if passed will increase the dollars used for economic development by $125,000, is intended to promote Columbus as a place where businesses can relocate and be profitable, broaden the tax base, create job opportunities, diversify the economic base, encourage the attraction of new businesses, foster capital investment in the region, grow existing companies locally, strengthen technology skills in the workforce and improve housing options for current and prospective employees and families, according to city staff.

Funds for the plan if passed will be generated from 2019-2027 and must be used by 2032. A maximum of $3.4 million would be able to go toward economic development during that time frame, according to released information from the city.

The existing 1-percent sales tax goes toward funding streets projects, drainage projects and overall capital improvements, City Administrator Tara Vasicek said during a previous interview with The Telegram. Even with allocating more than $400,000 yearly toward economic development, more than $4 million will still be available for capital improvements.

The previously approved Economic Development plan active through 2017 paid dividends in terms of promoting local business development, Mayor Jim Bulkley said.

Bulkley said the vote as of Tuesday evening showed that Columbus residents have a proactive mindset moving forward.

“I know that proposition on the ballot may have confused a few people, but overall it was pretty obvious that everyone understood that there’s no new tax or increase there,” Bulkley said. “Just allocating funding to continue to do something that has been extremely important for the community and will be as we move forward with economic development.”

See the Telegram’s website at www.columbustelegram.com for a full listing of local and state general election results.

Sam Pimper is the news editor of the Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at sam.pimper@lee.net.

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