Columbia City Council passes FY2021 budget, approves trail extension

Posted on 21 September 2020 at 11:36pm

COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia has officially passed its budget for the 2021 fiscal year during a council meeting on Monday night.

The goals of the budget as set out by the council members include continuing to address citizen and council priorities such as community policing and street maintenance, as well as developing a model to provide social/mental health services to shift certain responses from a police response.

Among the changes to the 2021 budget is the elimination of fares for those riding city buses or using paratrasit services.

Amendments to the budget primarily focused on reforms to the city's waste collection, specifically regarding increased funding to add more collectors, as well as the distribution of blue and black trash bags to Columbia citizens.

To prevent bulky items being placed on the curb for trash collection, citizens are now required to schedule pickup services, and in some cases pay for the service.

The changes will allow for curbside collection of recycling to be restored. In addition, workers will now be paid an additional $5 for each hour they spend collecting trash.

The $459 million budget will go into effect on October 1st. The total budget is a 7% decrease from the last fiscal year.

In addition to the passing of the budget, Boone County Director of Public Health Stephanie Browning gave an update regarding the recent COVID-19 numbers.

According to Browning, the demand for COVID-19 testing has decreased over the past two weeks.

In addition, Browning addressed the recent health code violations given out to local businesses. The health department pulled the operating licenses of Room 38 and Nash Vegas this weekend.

“When we issued a notice of violation prior to this, it’s going to take some time to go to court," Browning said. "If we suspend a permit, we’re going to get their attention."

She also defended the health department's decision to uphold the order requiring restaurants and bars to close by 10:30 p.m. through Oct. 6. However, she did mention that bars and restaurants would prefer to see more leeway in this restriction to have more control over who is coming in and out and when.

“They would love to be open until midnight," Browning said. "But right now that is premature. That can’t be considered right now.”

The Perche Creek trail proposal also passed in the meeting. The trail will extend from MKT to Gillespie Bridge Road in West Columbia, creating a 30-mile loop for cyclists.