Columbia approves budget

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The Columbia City Council voted Monday night to approve an $18 million annual budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year. 

Revenue is up $666,472 from last year’s report. 

Major expenses for the upcoming year include Phases 2 and 3 of the Main Street Streetscape project, which will use local and federal funds to install new sidewalks, new curbs and guttering, decorative lights and trees, and brick crosswalks at intersections along Main Street.

Monday’s budget allotted $275,000 of local funds for this year’s project work. 

Columbia’s new budget also includes $85,000 for the beginning of the Creekside Park  project. Columbia was awarded a $400,000 grant from the state earlier this year with plans to construct a park on the north side of town. 

Creekside Park will be located off Rueck Road and will feature bike trails, pavilions, a playground, lake and other amenities throughout 17 acres.

Another budgeted project is the Bolm-Schuhkraft Park connector trail. A total of $60,000 will be used to create a shared-use path linking Main Street in Columbia to the existing trail in the park as well as providing funds for new sidewalks and guttering in the area.

Other action items from the meeting included the appointment of an interim city administrator in the wake of current administrator James Morani’s recent resignation.

Former Columbia city administrator Al Hudzik was given the interim title, effective May 6. Hudzik retired from the position in May 2014 after holding the position for five years.

The council also approved a waiver of architectural requirements for the planned O’Reilly Auto Parts store to be located net to Hampton Inn. The waiver does not include design requirements, but will allow the store to have a storefront made of material other than those specified in the city’s municipal code.

The Columbia High School varsity boys bowling team was recognized by Mayor Kevin Hutchinson at the beginning of the meeting for their accomplishments. The team won the first-ever regional championship for CHS in bowling and placed sixth at the state tournament.

Former Republic-Times reporter Andrea Saathoff was also on hand to thank the city council and public safety officials and other city employees for their assistance during her tenure covering Columbia city business. As a show of gratitude, she donated a pet oxygen mask to Columbia EMS. The mask is designed to help animals who suffer smoke inhalation during house fires. 

The mask is the first of its kind in Columbia.

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