- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Since one voter would have had full say on whether to increase the sales tax by a half-cent in a downtown Columbia business improvement district, board members of that district say they won’t hold an election.

The Business Loop Community Improvement District board decided Monday to delay the vote but said it was optimistic a tax increase might pass in the future, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1UoZipu ).

The district planned to hold an August 2016 election on the sales tax increase, seeking to raise about $220,000. Under state law, only registered voters within the district are allowed to vote on proposed sales tax increases. If no registered voters are present, property owners vote.

Organizers of the BLCID thought they drew up the district’s boundaries so it included no residents, meaning property owners would decide the fate of the proposed sales tax. But when district officials contacted the Boone County Clerk’s Office, they discovered Jen Henderson, 23, had registered to vote in February with her Business Loop address - meaning only she would vote on the sales tax.

Henderson told the board in a letter received before Monday’s meeting that she was open to hearing members’ views and continuing with the election. Henderson’s attorney, Josh Oxenhandler, said after the meeting that her attitude has not changed.

“My client intends to continue to engage the stakeholders so that, if she is given the opportunity to vote, she is as fully informed as can be,” Oxenhandler said.

The lack of sales tax revenue puts the district in a difficult financial condition because it has amassed about $110,000 in debt. Board members have said they don’t think the district will be able to pursue many infrastructure or beautification improvements without the tax revenues.

Board member Cris Burnam said the board can make minor improvements with $50,000 a year from a property assessment.

“Naturally, sometime in the near future we’re going to have to reconsider an election as well,” Burnam said.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com

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