Columbia City Council at its regular session on Monday will consider proposals to spend approximately $ 2 million in federal ARPA funding to expand ongoing staff development programs.
The Council will also have the first reading of a proposal to include an internet sales tax issue in the April vote. District officials on Thursday signaled their intention to do the same.
The long-awaited announcement of a new city manager will also take place on Monday at a briefing at 4 p.m. in the council chamber. Unlike previous searches, the council has not disclosed the names of the finalists to the public due to a desire to protect candidates in a difficult job market.
The proposed tax, if approved by voters, would go into effect in January 2023 under a bill passed by lawmakers last spring. It would mimic the 2% local sales tax rate and be raised or lowered along with future local tax adjustments, according to an information note from city staff.
Bill 399-21, prepared by City Manager John Glascock and coworkers, cited a desire to protect Columbia companies from unfair competition with providers outside of city limits – especially those that operate online – who do not have to collect local taxes.
Under the current system, when a person residing in Colombia purchases an item from a retail store in Colombia, the person pays state and local sales tax on the purchase price. If the same person bought the same item from an internet-based seller, that seller doesn’t have to collect and pay the same local sales tax, giving them a competitive advantage that harms local sellers.
The tax would help all of the city’s residents fund local programs and services, regardless of where they shop, proponents say.
ARPA fundAfter months of deliberation over the fate of the federal government’s historic impetus to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the council will hear requests for an initial referral of $ 2 million of the $ 25 million ARPA funding from city workers.
The measure is channeling funds into three workforce development programs that prepare future workers, retrain laid-off workers, and encourage entrepreneurs to start their own businesses.
The three programs – MACC, Job Point and CoMo Cooks – currently offer these services and training opportunities. The ARPA funds would allow them to expand their offerings and their ability to reach and train more citizens, especially those traditionally underrepresented in post-secondary education or affected by racial, social and economic inequality, the bill said.
The MACC proposal would expand mechatronics and makerspace programs, as well as bespoke training and scholarships for early college career and technical education.
CoMo Cooks’ proposal for a communal kitchen is used to purchase additional equipment, renovate rooms in a new permanent location and expand the range of programs for marketing, retail, business coaching, workshops and training.
Job Point’s proposal would allow the purchase and renovation of a new training facility, as well as the purchase of software and a commercial driver’s license simulator (CDL). The ARPA funds have been a controversial discussion point over spending methods and priorities. Many members of the public raised concerns during the public hearings, saying the council had failed to properly seek public opinion and that ARPA spending decisions were not based on extensive data. They also argued that the plan did not effectively address structural inequalities or support those hardest hit by the pandemic, especially those who were unhoused and impoverished. At a meeting before the Council on October 4th, consensus was reached for a two-pronged effort to seek suggestions for proposals for specific spending areas while engaging the community in a wide-ranging submission process.
Sewage and sewageThe council is also expected to hold public hearings on Monday on improvements to sewer rehabilitation and sewer debris removal.
The proposed sanitation improvements will rehabilitate approximately 75,000 linear feet of sewer with an estimated $ 3,025,000 from Sewer Utility Revenue Bonds. The project would repair sewer pipes, manholes and side connections, mostly in the city center and in the Business Loop 70 areas, to address structural deficiencies. The project is scheduled to begin at the end of FY2022.
A separate public hearing will concern the planned construction of mechanical screens in the sewage plant’s wetland pumping station.
Typically, after wastewater treatment, waste is disposed of in the Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area of ââthe Missouri Department of Conservation. Natural debris accumulated in the treatment process can build up and clog the strainers, hindering their movement and damaging pumps. Currently, the rubble is removed manually, which is labor intensive and dangerous in certain weather conditions.
This project would build an automatic debris removal system to dump debris to the side of the pumping station where it can be safely and easily removed.
Training, data agreements with MUThe council will also consider approving a collaboration between MU’s Fire and Rescue Training Institute (MU FRTI) to offer Live Fire Instruction at the City of Columbia Fire Training Academy.
The MU FRTI program provides training for fire and rescue services in locations across the state.
The agreement would allow MU FRTI to assist in the Columbia Fire Department’s Live First Course, which would be available to other fire departments.
First approved in 2017, the project presents a variety of health, educational, social, economic, and housing data on topics relevant to Boone County.