Columbia council rejects tax hit for police

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Columbia officials say they will look for money to fund more police officers after deciding that a proposal to ask residents to raise property taxes was not the proper method.

The Columbia City Council on Monday unanimously rejected a proposal to put a 20-cent property tax proposal on the November ballot. Mayor Bob McDavid proposed the tax increase two weeks ago but withdrew his support after it received little backing from others and was publicly questioned by the Columbia Police Officers’ Association.

The city’s property tax rate of 41 cents per $100 of assessed valuation has not changed for more than a decade.

McDavid said the tax increase would have raised $3.5 million to hire 35 new officers.

The mayor said Monday that asking for a property tax increase might have been an “over simplistic” reaction to funding new officers after a series of shootings in the city this summer but he said the city of 100,000 people needs to find a way to increase its 160-officer police force.

“I think if there’s extra money, we’re going to find it,” McDavid said.

Council members said an approach such as incremental property and sales tax increases over time likely would be more acceptable to residents.

City Manager Mike Matthes has proposed a budget for the 2014 fiscal year that includes hiring two new police officers and one new sergeant.

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