COVID-19, fiscal 2021 budget and trail hearing pack Columbia City Council agenda
COLUMBIA - Monday night will likely be a long one for the Columbia City Council as it gets another update on the COVID-19 pandemic and holds a final hearing and vote on the proposed budget for fiscal 2021.
The agenda also includes a public hearing on the first phase of the Perche Creek Trail. A developer seeking rezoning of 1.45 acres at Green Meadows Road and Green Meadows Circle has asked that the council's hearing on that request be postponed until the council's second October meeting.
COVID-19 status report
Stephanie Browning, director of the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services, is scheduled to give the council a COVID update at the beginning of the meeting. Browning typically offers the council a review of trends in the number of positive cases and contact tracing in the county, then fields questions. Browning's most recent health directive, effective Friday and set to expire Oct. 6, requires bars and restaurants that serve alcohol to close no later than 10:30 p.m. It lifted a previous requirement, which expired Thursday, that required them to stop serving alcohol at 9 p.m.
The Health Department in a Wednesday news release said the county had seen a drop in the number of coronavirus cases since the previous order took effect Aug. 28 and attributed that drop to the restrictions.
Fiscal 2021 budget hearing
The council will hold its third and final public hearing on the proposed $456.9 million budget for fiscal 2021, which begins Oct. 1, then is scheduled to vote on a series of budget-related bills that would:
- Approve the overall budget.
- Eliminate fares for those riding city buses or using paratransit service.
- Restore proposed cuts to the Solid Waste Utility. City Manager John Glascock had suggested the city stop distributing black garbage bags and blue recycling bags, along with permanently eliminating curbside recycling collection. Given council guidance, however, the budget now calls on the city to provide households two black trash bags per week, continue distributing recycling bags, pay workers an additional $5 for each hour they spend collecting trash, restore curbside recycling collection and raise monthly solid waste bills by 85 cents an hour. It also would restrict residents from placing bulky items at curbside, require them to schedule the pickups and, in some cases, pay a fee for the service.
- Establish employee pay and benefits for the coming year.
The council also will consider a budget amendment to put $35,000 toward the effort by Vidwest to revive Columbia Acccess Television. Glascock's budget had proposed eliminating that funding, but First Ward Councilwoman Pat Fowler said at the Sept. 8 meeting that she wants to restore that money.
Perche Creek Trail
The council also is scheduled to hold a public hearing and vote on whether to authorize construction of the first phase of the Perche Creek Trail from the MKT Trail to Gillespie Bridge Road in west Columbia. Public comment on the $1.2 million project has been overwhelmingly favorable.
The concrete trail, designed by Crockett Engineering, would be 10 feet wide and 1.2 miles long and would include a 200-foot bridge over Perche Creek. The trail would cross city-owned property near the waste-water treatment plant and incorporate abandoned sections of Hunt Road and Coats Lane. A memo to the council from the Parks and Recreation Department said the project is a key component of the effort to establish 30-mile loop of trails through the city.
Initial plans called for a smaller trail connecting the Perche Creek path with a sidewalk along Chapel Hill Road. That part of the project has been cut for now, given financial pressures caused by the pandemic, but Parks and Recreation staff are exploring how to move forward on that project soon.
Green Meadows rezoning
A rezoning request that the Planning and Zoning Commission rejected 8-0 vote is on the agenda for a hearing and vote, but a Civil Group, on behalf of property owners West Rock II LLC, is asking that the matter be moved to the council's Oct. 19 meeting.
West Rock II wants to rezone 1.45 acres at Green Meadows Road and Green Meadows Circle from R-1, single-family residential, to PD, planned development, to allow construction of a 16-apartment complex called The Godfrey. Each of the apartments would have two bedrooms, and the project would include 37 parking spaces.
Jay Gebhardt argued at the Planning and Zoning Commission's Aug. 6 meeting that the project would create more affordable housing. Commissioners, however, felt The Godfrey plan was too dense and unimaginative.
Bird scooter agreement
The council's consent agenda, reserved for bills and resolutions the council intents to approve without discussion, includes an ordinance authorizing a contract that would allow Bird to bring 500 scooters back to town. The contract, which also includes MU, would require Bird to pay an upfront fee of $10,000 plus $2 per day per scooter deployed as well as a $4 performance bond per scooter to offset any costs the city and MU might incur.
The contract establishes extensive obligations for Bird and rules for riders, and it requires Bird to provide the city and MU detailed data on the use of its scooters and any accidents or other violations that occur.