Columbia business development proposed

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Pictured is an engineering drawing of one of the proposed office buildings for Columbia Professional Center. (submitted photo)

During a July 14 committee meeting of the Columbia City Council, Columbia developer Joe Koppeis of Admiral Parkway, Inc. presented early plans for a proposed $50 million office, medical and professional park north of Sand Bank Road on the west side of Route 3 at the northern edge of Columbia.

“The quality of business and type of business office buildings would be a wonderful addition to the entrance of Columbia,” Columbia Mayor Kevin Hutchinson said.

Koppeis presented plans at the committee meeting as part of the city’s annexation process. The matter is expected to be taken up during a future council meeting.

The proposed development, Columbia Professional Center, consists of five large multi-level buildings to be

constructed in phases over time, said Lorrie Maag, Director of Operations for Admiral Parkway, Inc.

There are already tenants currently committed to the project, Maag said, without disclosing who they might be.

“I’m excited about this development, because good business brings more good business. I look at this as a possibility to bring more needed economic growth to the community,“ Hutchinson said.

As of the present, there is no timeline for construction. Among the next steps is discussing annexation of the proposed development site into the Columbia city limits.

Tax increase on ballot

At Monday night’s meeting of the full city council, the city’s economic state was once again on the agenda. The council passed a resolution to put a .25 percent municipal sales tax increase on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

Currently, the city receives 1 percent of sales tax collected by the state on things like automobiles sold within city limits, Columbia City Administrator Al Hudzik explained. State statute allows municipalities to impose additional sales taxes at .25 percent increments all the way up to 1 percent, subject to voter approval.

“We had discussed how much revenue might be raised if the sales tax was approved. It’s very difficult because a lot of our sales come from automobile sales (which are exempt) but I estimated it could be somewhere in the area of $275,000 for every quarter percent,” Hudzik said.

The tax would be applied to tangible items sold within city limits, but would not be applied to the sale of food for human consumption to be consumed off the premises where it is sold, prescription and nonprescription medicines and some medical appliances. It also would not apply to anything that is titled by the state, which includes automobiles, Hudzik said.

The funds can be used for municipal operations, and specifically will go toward the city’s public safety and infrastructure needs.

“This has not been taken lightly,” Hutchinson said. “We have been discussing this. We’ve been dancing around it. We’ve been dealing with flat property tax, sales tax, lawsuits. The revenues of the city have not been going up over the past few years… We actually had a 10 percent decrease over what we estimated our sales tax revenue would be last year.

“So, I do want everyone to know that no one’s excited about this. This isn’t something that we want to do. But the fact is that salaries keep going up, the fact is that the costs of materials (go up). Every year we sit up here and look at how we can better Columbia. And if we don’t have revenues to keep up with the expenses, it’s hard to keep making Columbia better. Over the last 10 years we’ve tightened our belts. We’ve already done far more with far less. And it’s not popular, it’s not something we’re excited about doing, but unless someone can come up with a better way to get some revenue, I really just don’t see any other option at this point.”

The resolution passed unanimously. Aldermen Mary Ellen Niemietz and Jeff Huch were not in attendance.

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