In the news

Funding for Basic Needs and Information for Voters

October 4, 2020

Dear Constituent:

As I discussed in my last constituent newsletter, Mike Trapp and I have proposed a property tax increase for quality of life with economic dignity. If approved by Columbia voters, funds raised would be used to provide basic needs (rental assistance, homelessness services, workforce development, etc.) for the thousands of residents currently experiencing severe financial hardship.

We are grateful for all of the feedback we have received, which shows majority support for the proposal, and want to clarify one point of possible confusion. In the newsletter, by way of an example, I noted that an increase of $0:30 per $100 of Assessed Value on top of the City's existing property tax rate of $0:41 per $100 AV would generate about $6 million/year. Because Columbia Public Schools and other taxing entities receive the vast majority of property tax collections, this represents a 4% increase for Columbia homeowners or about $10/month on average, not a 75% increase.

One area of tremendous need in the long term and short term is utility assistance. In March, the City of Columbia suspended its normal policy of disconnecting customers with overdue unpaid bills. As a result, the number of delinquent accounts ballooned to about 8,000 for a total of more than $4 million, and the City announced recently that disconnects will be resumed, multiplying the hardship for thousands of poor families. I have advocated internally for an alternative solution which would avert widespread shut-offs, and this situation will be discussed during tomorrow's City Council meeting.

If you are struggling to pay your bill, please call City Utilities at 573-874-7380 to see if you can set up a payment plan. If you are able to help others financially, please consider donating to the Utility Drive organized by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia.

Information for Voters

Election Day - Tuesday, November 3rd - is less than a month away and, as always, the success of our representative democracy depends critically on all eligible voters participating in the election.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the process is a little different this year, and the most important advice has two parts - first, make sure you understand your voting options early (i.e. today) and second, make a plan! If you have any questions or concerns, I encourage you to visit the Boone County Clerk's website, telephone the County Clerk's office on 573-886-4375, or send an email to clerk@​boonecountymo.org.

Here are some important dates to keep in mind:

  • Wednesday, October 7th (this Wednesday) is the last day you can register to vote if you are not already registered at your current address (more information here).
  • Wednesday, October 21st at 5pm is the deadline to request an absentee or mail-in ballot be sent to you by mail from the Boone County Clerk (more information and application forms here, under bullet point #2).
  • Monday, November 2nd (the day before Election Day) is the last day you can vote by absentee ballot in person at the Boone County Clerk's office between 8am and 5pm (more information here, under bullet point #1).
  • Tuesday, November 3rd is Election Day and you can vote in person at your assigned polling place between 6am and 7pm (more information here).

If you are unable or do not want to vote in person at your assigned polling place on Election Day, you have a number of mail-in and absentee options (more information here). Mail-in ballots must be notarized and so must absentee ballots unless you are "at-risk for contracting or transmitting COVID-19 or incapacitated or confined due to illness or injury (or a caregiver of someone who is incapacitated or confined)."

If you are unsure how to proceed, please do not hesitate to telephone the Boone County Clerk's office on 573-886-4375, or send an email to clerk@​boonecountymo.org.

Other Updates

Please review the City's Five-Year Status Report on our Comprehensive Plan, Columbia Imagined, and complete the Community Feedback Survey.

Take a look at this helpful graphic showing the relative risk of COVID-19 transmission based on location (indoors versus outdoors), degree of contact, mask-wearing, etc.

Check out the speech I gave at last week’s Columbia Climate Rally.

Constituent Conversations

  • Please join me for Constituent Conversations Online this afternoon from 2-4pm - here are the videoconference/dial-in links:
  • Zoom Meeting https://zoom.us/j/99238494086 or phone 1-312-626-6799, Meeting ID: 992-3849-4086
  • Upcoming dates are always available at my web site.

Cheers, Ian