Tuesday, December 16, 2008

BEAT BYTE: Eminent Domain Bill Leaves Council Clueless

1) Eminent Domain Bill Leaves Council Clueless
2) County Commission Considers Humane Society Funds

1) Eminent Domain Bill Leaves Council Clueless

COLUMBIA, 12/16/08 (Beat Byte) -- On David Lile's KFRU radio show yesterday morning, Mayor Darwin Hindman said he "didn't know" who owned the gray rental house next to US Cleaners on 5th street, in the firing line of an eminent domain ordinance designed to expedite relocation of the State Historical Society of Missouri, wrongly referred to in the draft ordinance as the "Missouri Historical Society."

Hindman wasn't sure who would own the newly-acquired land -- the city or the museum -- and he didn't know if anyone had contacted property owners Jack and Julie Rader, Adam Dushoff, and Matt Jenne.

So began what 4th ward councilman Jerry Wade called an "information vacuum" that was on full display at last night's Columbia City Council meeting. The council took up two land acquisition ordinances in confusing positions -- a "consent agenda" item setting a public hearing for January 5th that would have passed without discussion; and a "first reading" of the ordinance itself. Both items were moved to Monday, February 2, 2009.

Representing gray house owners Dushoff and Jenne, who also own Addison's and Sophia's restaurants, publicist Mark Farnen told the council that his clients "didn't learn" about the pending proposal until a reporter called Friday. "No one has approached my clients about this," Farnen said, gesturing toward the door. "We just talked about how to proceed out in the hallway -- that hallway."

Dittoes attorney Craig van Matre, representing the Raders, who own Bengals Bar and the US Cleaners building on 5th and 6th streets. Given the critical nature of the ordinance, van Matre asked for "maybe as much as 60 days" for proper consideration.

Even museum director Gary Kremer said he hadn't been told about the council agenda until hearing from a reporter "like everyone else here." Kremer also told the council he thought consultants hired to find a new museum site had contacted property owners.

Expressing surprise over the lack of communication with so many of the project's "key stakeholders," 5th ward council member Laura Nauser asked for an explanation.

"We're going to look into it. We definitely have questions," Kremer said. Even more surprising: Kremer said his board of directors doesn't want to use eminent domain, the power of government to seize private property with monetary compensation but without the owner's consent.


City eyes land for museum
Eminent domain could play role in new Historical Society home.

Local Businesses Fight Being Forced Out

State Historical Society of Missouri

Missouri Historical Society

2) County Commission Considers Humane Society Funds

COLUMBIA, 12/16/08 (Beat Byte) -- Central Missouri Humane Society board members turned out for the Boone County Commission's 2009-10 budget hearing Monday morning. Commissioners watched a video about the society's overcrowding problems, and took public comment from CMHS director Patty Forister and board vice president Maria Furey.

Recent news that the humane society -- which in Columbia and Boone County doubles as an animal control center or "dog pound" -- was on the verge of closing sent shock waves through the community. Annually, the city of Columbia provides $100,000.00 and the County of Boone ten times less -- $10,000.00 -- for care of an animal control population society president Patty Forister estimates at around 4,500.

Private donations of about $800,000.00/year pick up the tab for another 4,500 animals that come to the society outside the realm of animal control.

"We really need about $400,000.00 to do the animal control mission," Forister said. "We're about $300,000.00 short."

Answering shelter usage questions, Furey told commissioners that animals come in from numerous other counties too small to have an animal control facility. Those counties pay modest fees "that could be increased," she said.

"Would you be willing to have someone from the city or county on your board?" presiding commissioner Ken Pearson asked.

"We would welcome the additional input," Furey responded.

Saying that he had "some really good thoughts on a possible solution" to the society's crisis-stage budget woes, Northern District County Commissioner Skip Elkin recently told the Columbia Heart Beat that "we are still working on this issue." The solution Elkin said he envisions "could potentially be a win-win for everyone. And it will be a significant investment from both the City of Columbia and Boone County."

Starting off the 2009-10 budget year with $11 million in reserve funds and another $6.57 million in undesignated/unreserved funds, according to recent Columbia Tribune reports, the County Commission should be in a strong position to boost its support for CMHS. Out of this year's $45 million budget, the two funds add up to a 39% reserve fund, not including reserves for individual departments such as the County Assessor, which this year reported a hefty $1.4 million in reserves, up 40% from $1 million in 2005.


Humane Society Appeal Video

Bust Sends 19 Pups to Humane Society

-- Mike Martin for the Columbia Heart Beat

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