Daily Herald Article Columbia Reduces Property Tax

Columbia Reduces Property Tax Rate
Posted on 06/18/2018
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(article published by the Columbia Daily Herald) Columbia City Council’s regular meeting included a new city property tax rate, a master plan for local arts and a proposed acquisition of 120 acres of land for future industrial use.
Columbia homeowners will now pay a lower rate for property taxes after a recent appraisal.
The property tax rate, as voted by the council last week, will be reduced from $1.44 per $100 of assessed value to $1.1597 per $100.
The council also passed its annual budget, which included a $563,201 revenue increase to the general fund. This allowed for a three percent increase in city employee wages and part-time positions with the parks and recreation department.
“It was a good night. In addition to offering our employees a raise, we got to pass a budget without a tax increase,” Councilman Mark King said. “That’s always a good thing, too.”
The council also heard a presentation by Columbia Arts Council chairperson Susan Manning and Columbia Tourism and Marketing Director Kellye Murphy. The presentation focused on the arts council’s five-year strategic plan, which consisted of establishing a 501(c)3 nonprofit for local artists, hosting special events and possibly acquiring the former Polk Theater.
“As the arts council continues into the future, it plans to continue to develop and nurture the arts in this community,” Manning said. “Many projects and plans for the future continue to drive this committee forward.”
Some of the challenges the arts council faces mainly have to do with finding support, whether through funding by grants, the public’s overall attitude concerning the arts or communicating awareness of how the arts benefit the community.
The arts council established a list of committees to accomplish its strategic plan. These include groups organizing a network for artists, research funding options for grants and if purchasing the former Polk Theater, now Alexander’s Mattress World, could be possible.
Councilman Anthony Greene said he hopes the arts council will pursue projects like acquiring the Polk Theater. He said he remembered going there as a kid and that it would be a tremendous asset to the city.
“To me, that place meant a lot. I got hooked on the whole ‘Star Wars’ thing there,” Greene said. “It’s worth it.”
Manning said the plan is currently in its preliminary stages, working alongside arts council member Ed Lancaster on how much, and how likely, a project like that would be.
We’re talking to a lot of people,” she said. “We’re getting the idea of, ‘Should we really do this? Is it worth even looking into?’ It’s preliminary at this point.”
Vice Mayor Christa Martin commended the arts council on the past three years of work since it became established. This includes creating an arts district, commissioning the mural in front of Columbia Fire Station No. 1 and developing a community of artists that benefits the city.
“Everyone likes some form of art. I’m excited with what you’ve done so far and look forward to stretching the ideal, and seeing all of that stuff ... to be in a place where we can look at it,” Martin said. “We spend time going through the gallery at Columbia State, seeing all of the wonderful pieces of work that our students and citizens participate in. We look forward to continue those great things you guys are doing.”
As one of the fastest-growing areas of the state, having land to develop on is a necessity. The council voted approval of a resolution to acquire 129 acres adjacent to Oakland Parkway for future industrial use.
Columbia and Maury County Industrial Development Boards presented the resolution to council, which Columbia IDB chairman Randy Wilmore described as “a game changer over the next 15-20 years.”
Councilman Mike Greene added that the project’s value lies in how important it will be to Columbia’s growth.
“It’s good to see that the county sees the need for this, and [Maury County Chamber & Economic Alliance],” Greene said. “This particular project is very important because growth is going to be taking place down here constantly. Columbia is right in the middle of the growth that’ll be there, and this allows us to be a player in this tremendous effort that’s going to take place.”