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COLUMBI/N& BOARD OF REALTORS® ~-February 18,2018 Mayor Brian Treece City of Columbia Missouri P.0. Box 6015 Columbia, MO 65202-6015 Dear Mayor Trees: During the past year, there has been substantial discussion and debate regarding the current financial position ofthe city. Specificaly, ithas become apparent that the city’s general tax base has failed to keep pace with the demands faced by a growing and vibrant community. Critcal decisions will need to be made to continue to provide services at the same level our community has come to expect inthe past. The direction the city takes in addressing these issues is of primary concer to the Columbia Board of REALTORS® Board of Directors, our members and the communily-at-large. This past year, we had an opportunity o improve the city’s financial status when the City placed a measure on the baliot that would allow forthe collection of sales taxes on Internet purchases. Allhough the Board of REALTORS® supported that measure, the voters of Columbia did not. There are los of possible reasons why that measure failed, Some people have cited general tax weariness. Some have cited confusion over how the initiative would have been implemented, Others have indicated the City may have sufficient resources to provide the services our community needs, but that funds are somehow being misallocated, or at the very least, are not being managed in a way that is understandable and transparent to everyday citizens, This idea was reinforced recently when a local newspeper reported the City had over-collected funds through utility rate increases, and those funds are now sitting idle in @ restricted account, primarily due to reliance on poor planning and errant needs and budget projections. We realize our cty budget is @ remarkably complex docurnent and the city goes to great lengths to present and explain its financial plans for the coming year during each budget cycle. But somehow, those efforts seem fo be lost on an increasing number of Columbians. We know the services and programs our city provides have a price tag, but we also know a price is paid ultimately by the citizens ofthis area. I's not really city money — itis our money - and we are willing fo spend it when we believe the priorities, the methods of collection and the allocation of those funds is fair and appropriate One thing that could help restore confidence in the minds of our voters and help address the problem of tax weariness would be for a professional, independent source to examine the way we do business in Columbia and report those findings back tothe voters. Such an audit could help dispel misconceptions about the financial management and status ofthe city; could help restore confidence in the process by which we adapt our city budget each year; and may provide insight into those areas where our system of financial governance could be improved. We should not fear any of those outcomes. Infact, we believe, unless we take such a step it will be increasingly difficult to gain future suppor for programs that keep our city vibrant, safe and affordable. 2309 1-70 Drive N.W. * Columbia, MO 65202 + 573/446-2400 + FAX 573/446-2646 What those programs are; how they are funded; and how the responsibilty for funding for such programs is allocated among our citizens is a debate for another day. But, until we address the fundamental questions of trust and transparency, those questions will remain a moot point. Therefore; the Columbia Board of REALTORS® Board of Directors; on behalf of its members-and the clients we serve, respectfully joins with other community voices in asking the Clly Council of Columbia, Missouri formally request an audit ofits records, methods, and finances from the Auditor of the State of Missouri. We also ask the results of such audit be availabe to the citizens of Columbia on a timely and transparent basis, We fully realize there could be a substantial cost associated with such a process, and the voters of this community wil be responsible for that bil, However, ifthe results of such an aut indicate our current financial management system needs improverent, we can use the information fo create a roadmap forthe future that can recoup those costs through tax and rate savings and addtional effciencies. ifthe audit comes back clean, it can help dispel the allegations of mismanagement that currently exist and can help restore confidence in our local government and leaders. Either way, it will help demonstrate this city’s commitment to eficient and transparent governance and allow for us to address critical issues in an informed and forthright manner, We believe that either outcome is worth our collective investment at this time. Thank you for your consideration of this request. We sincerely believe that such an action would bein the best interest of the community that we call home. Respectiully, Sceeaeey AT ~ Sean Moore 2018 President / Columbia Board of REALTORS®