Candidates agree on closed polling stations, sales tax problems at forum


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Nothing was off the table Friday for the two men running for the Second Ward City Council seat.

Incumbent Mike Trapp and candidate Paul Love expressed their views at their second candidate forum, which was sponsored by the Boone County Muleskinners and held at the Columbia Country Club. They answered questions on a variety of topics, including the closure of polling stations, decreasing sales tax revenue and controversial language.

The closure of polling stations

Chimene Schwach, vice president of programming for the Muleskinners, was concerned about Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks eliminating two polling stations at Paquin Tower and Oak Towers in February.

Both Love and Trapp disagreed with Burks' decision to remove the polling stations.

Paquin Tower residents are mostly seniors and people with disabilities. Trapp said he spoke out against the change as soon as he heard of it.

"Promoting absentee ballots so that people don't have the experience of going to the polls because they have mobility issues is not right," he said.

Trapp said Burks promoted this as a tax saving measure, but in reality, it isn't. The cost has moved from the county to the city, he said. He also criticized the county for spending very little of its money within city limits.

Love said he felt communication between the county and city has been poor and that a better working relationship would be beneficial.

He also touched on the fact that voter turnout is currently very low and removing more polling stations will not help.

"We have a hard enough time getting people to vote anyways," Love said.

Trapp thought using para-transit to get voters in that area to a polling station wouldn't be financially smart. A one-way trip on para-transit costs riders $2, but it costs the city $28. Trapp said it wouldn't make fiscal sense to utilize para-transit on election day.

Love added that if they set up a schedule for para-transit to pick up multiple people at one location on election day, this could help cover the costs by having more riders per trip.

Decreasing sales tax revenue

Another issue both Love and Trapp agreed on was decreasing sales tax revenue. They said they both felt a higher property tax would be the best way to combat the loss of sales tax revenue from online sales.

Love said the use tax measure on the ballot last year was not a good way to track and collect tax from online sales, especially because it is based on a self-reporting system. The shift to online shopping has also hurt Columbia as it is a shopping hub for nearby cities.

"All the small towns around came here to shop, so sales tax was a great idea," Love said. "But those people are also shopping more online, so they aren't coming here as often."

Trapp brought up that although Columbia's economy is booming, the sales tax revenue is projected to decline.

Columbia has the lowest property tax rate of any city in Missouri with a police force and of any college town in the U.S., Trapp said.

"The 2 percent sales tax is not funding essential services," Trapp said.

Political rhetoric

Kevin Webb, an administrative assistant for the public defenders office, asked a question about what he referred to as "extreme or misleading remarks" made during the campaign. Webb, who is a friend of Trapp's, asked the question to both candidates, but he said it was directed more specifically at Love.

Webb was concerned about Love's remarks regarding Trapp's alleged conflict of interest by voting to approve tax increment financing for the second Broadway Hotel tower. Webb also referred to a Facebook post where Love had called Trapp a "shit heel."

Love said he was personally offended by the ethical issues that surrounded Trapp and his alleged conflict of interest.

"I believe that he gave away $2 million of my tax dollars to something that he shouldn't have been voting for," Love said.

Trapp said he was disappointed Love had chosen to use foul language to attack his character. Trapp said he discussed the issue with the city attorney and believes he did not have a conflict of interest.

Supervising editor is Tynan Stewart.

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