I don't care so much about which way she might vote, I just find this story to be cool.

What might happen when you try to gerrymander a "Community Improvement District" that deliberately cuts out the "Community" that actually lives there, in hopes you can okay a plan that makes them pay off your debts?

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/local/college-student-would-be-sole-voter-in-cid-sales-tax/article_6702c44b-0243-51f8-861c-1df0b462cd92.html

Columbia TribuneA mistake by representatives of the Business Loop 70 Community Improvement District means a sales tax increase the district needs to thrive will require approval by a single University of Missouri student.

On Feb. 28, Jen Henderson, 23, became the sole registered voter living within the community improvement district, or CID, meaning she is the only person who would vote on a half-cent sales tax increase for the district.

The Columbia City Council established the district on a 5-2 vote in April in response to a petition from a group of property owners in the CID boundaries. The “qualified voters” in a CID are capable of levying various taxes or assessments within the boundaries of the district to fund improvement projects.

Under state law, decisions to impose sales taxes in a CID are to be made by registered voters living in the district boundaries. If no such registered voters are present, property owners vote.

Many homes surrounding the university-owned property where Henderson resides were not included in the district when it was drawn because district organizers wanted a district free of residents.

CID property owners levied a property assessment within the district after the city council’s April vote. The rate is about a half-cent per $100 of assessed value for properties within the district, and organizers say it should bring in about $50,000 annually.

The CID planned to hold an August election to enact a half-cent sales tax, projected to bring in about $220,000 of additional revenue for capital improvement projects. CID Executive Director Carrie Gartner said when CID officials contacted the Boone County Clerk’s Office about holding the election, they found out Henderson registered to vote with her Business Loop address in February.

For more than a year and a half, as property owners in the “Loop” area worked to get the CID and tax increases established, they banked on that sales tax vote being their own.

When asked if the CID would be financially viable without the sales tax increase, Gartner said “no.”

Gartner said the CID has incurred “significant debt” the district hoped to pay down through the tax, including more than $100,000 it owes the city and for legal representation, $55,000 owed to Jack Miller of True Media and a $60,000 line of credit with Landmark Bank.

Gartner said Monday that, at the suggestion of Boone County Clerk Wendy Noren, the CID’s board of directors tried to keep the identity of the sole voter private because of “concerns with her privacy during this sensitive situation.”

Noren said she told the CID about Henderson’s registration in May.

Henderson said she doesn’t want her involvement with the CID to be private. She said Gartner initially approached her in June to explain the goals of the CID and ask her to consider “unregistering her vote” so the property owners could make the decision. The more she researched the situation, Henderson said, things “just didn’t seem to be as good as they were saying to me at first.”

Gartner “tried to get me to unregister, and that’s pretty manipulative,” Henderson said. “The district plan and the district border is manipulative, too.”

Gartner said she did nothing illegal when contacting Henderson and was surprised Henderson viewed her contact negatively.

Noren said she spoke with Henderson about withdrawing her registration but that the clerk’s office only does so “very occasionally” and does not recommend it.

Henderson said she doesn’t plan to give up her right to vote and feels negative about an increased sales tax — but has not made a decision about how to vote. Henderson said her concerns include vague project outlines, Gartner’s pay, Business Loop improvements she said will help businesses but not nearby residents and how an additional sales tax would affect low-income people purchasing groceries and other necessities.

“Taxing their food is kind of sad, especially when” Gartner “is going to be making like $70,000 a year off of this whole deal,” Henderson said. “These people make a quarter of that. They can barely afford to go buy food, and you’re taxing their food.”

Gartner said the board has two options: hold the election or not. She said if the board decides to forego the election or Henderson votes “no,” it will likely use the property assessment to begin paying off the district’s debt.

“Obviously, it would not be the same organization and could not function in the way we envisioned,” Gartner said.


Oh well! Good luck! And Go Tigers! icon_smile.gif