Columbia OKs tax levy

If current projections are accurate, property owners in Columbia will experience a reduction in property tax rates for the fourth consecutive year.

The Columbia City Council on Monday night approved a tax levy of $3,174,218 for the 2023 tax year ending April 30, 2024. 

The taxes will be collected during the 2024 Monroe County property tax cycle. 

Even though the levy request is a 5 percent increase over the previous year, Columbia City Administrator Doug Brimm explained the city’s property tax rate would decrease about 0.6 percent if the equalized assessed valuation of Columbia properties increases 5.63 percent, which is the current average increase for the city in the past five years.

Brimm also noted in the agenda report the 5.63 percent EAV increase is “conservative,” and he added if the city’s property tax rate is lower in 2024, it would be the eighth such reduction in the past nine years.

Aldermen also approved amendments to Columbia’s code of ordinances concerning approved uses in BP-2 business park zones to include language to allow a “mobile vending business park” and “entertainment venue (indoor)” in those areas. 

The amendments were discussed during the Nov. 20 meeting and will also repeal a section of the business code, replacing “mobile food vendors” with “mobile vending” and revising license requirements for such vendors. 

The council approved the changes unanimously, although there was some discussion about possible outdoor entertainment and other noise concerns in one of the city’s two BP-2 zones.

Columbia Building Official Justin Osterhage explained entertainment and off-street parking regulations are included in the amendments, adding that mobile vending is the primary function of a property, and outdoor entertainment would only be allowed in conjunction with the operation of a mobile business.

Brimm further explained staff felt the entertainment aspect of the amendments would not be a problem because the location of BP-2 areas in Columbia are “isolated” from residential areas.

When asked by aldermen about entertainment possibly violating the city’s existing noise ordinance, Osterhage explained a  proposed “outdoor theater” amendment was removed, saying the city has been contacted by a potential developer which has expressed interest in developing a “pretty big facility” which would be able to house music indoors.

He continued by adding he anticipated the proposal would facilitate “probably a 600-person occupancy load” for indoor entertainment.

While Columbia has a BP-2 zone along Schlemmer lane off Admiral Trost Drive, Brimm specifically mentioned a BP-2 zone near Ramsey and DD roads as the location of interest as it relates to the mobile vending and entertainment amendments.  

Brimm also read the city’s noise ordinance, noting noise between and 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. is “subject to greater scrutiny.”

To that point, Osterhage noted the potential developer had “contemplated other areas” for an indoor entertainment venue, but were drawn to the BP-2 zone in the northern part of the city because it is “more of an industrial warehousing environment out there with very low, or none, residential” representation.

Columbia Police Chief Jason Donjon addressed a question about possible noise complaints.

Donjon said he had met with the interested party about noise, and he suggested the building insulation be effective enough to contain noise and asked that speakers be pointed away from areas which might disrupt Columbia residents.

Donjon also said he advised the individual of the noise ordinance, explaining he didn’t want the venue built “and then we have to come out and make you quiet all the time, and it seemed very understood”  the developer was aware of the potential of noise concerns.  

In other action, the council approved a public hearing date of Jan. 16 at 6:45 p.m. to discuss a proposed business district along Route 3 and I-255 north from Sandbank Road to the city limits. The district would also include an area along DD and Palmer roads.

John Brancaglione of PGAV Planners will be on hand during the Dec. 18 city council meeting to review a draft of the proposed  business district plan. 

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Scott Woodsmall

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