Matthes unveils 2015 city budget proposal

Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes said a sales tax increase for more police officers and firefighters is not an option.

Columbia City Manager Mike Matthes unveiled his 2015 budget proposal.

It includes plans to make more employees full-time, raise utility rates and parking fees.

Some of his plans depend on voters approving a property tax to hire more firefighters and police officers.

Columbia voters could decide on the proposal as soon as the November ballot.

Matthes said violent crime is the lowest itâ??s been in the last 20 years, but Columbia is understaffed in police, fire and most other city services. He wants voters to pass a 5-year property tax increase that would cost the average homeowner about $8 a month. Columbia voters we talked with had mixed feelings about the proposal.

David Fleisher said, â??I think thatâ??s a very good idea because the police are understaffed. I know that first hand.â??

Diane Parish said, â??There has to be another way or another solution to help for them. I totally agree the fire department and the police force, we absolutely need them. We need more. I just canâ??t see paying the higher prices on the property taxes.â??

Rafa Nizam said, â??The fire department does a great job of keeping us free of fire. The police department also does a good job. We have enough as it stands.â??

Kristy Baumhoer said, â??People donâ??t want to give out raises. I think people are struggling with that. Raising taxes isnâ??t really going to help anything.â??

Ken Sevcik said, â??Iâ??m against it. I donâ??t think that we need any more police. We just have to apply it more smartly.â??

Bailey Harbit said, â??Itâ??s always good to have extra police and have extra patrols around especially in east campus where I live. Sometimes, things tend to happen. It would nice to have extra patrols out. Things happen. Itâ??s always good to have extra firemen, too. I think it would good.â??

Matthes said a sales tax increase for more police officers and firefighters is not an option.

Matthes said, â??We have really not done anything with property taxes. Weâ??re heavily on the side of sales tax.â??

City council members must approve the property tax proposal before it goes on the November ballot. The 5-year property tax increase would add about $6 million to the city budget.

The city council still needs to approve putting the property tax issue on the November ballot.

The proposed budget also includes 2% raises for more than 400 city employees.

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