A sales tax hike referendum in Columbia failed again on Tuesday, according to unofficial totals.
With all precincts reporting, 431 people voted against the sales tax hike; 228 people were in favor.
Voters were asked if they wanted the sales tax rate in town to be increased from 6.5 percent to 6.75 percent to help pay for infrastructure improvements.
The proposed increase would not have applied to property that requires a title such as cars, trucks, or boats, or groceries, medication or medical supplies, if it passes.
Columbia expected the increase would have brought in about $165,000 a year from the sales tax hike with plans of using the money for infrastructure projects such as street and sidewalk repairs.
Among the $2 million in projects city officials promoted as part of its education efforts leading up to Tuesday’s vote, were road reconstruction along Ghent Road, sidewalk work along Veterans Parkway, and work along Centerville Street.
In order to do projects in town, the city will have to use a combination of motor fuel tax money which helps pay for maintenance and road salt, capital development funds, and general funds, which helps pay for police and street crews among other things, said City Administrator Jimmy Morani.
“We have to get creative to find new ways to cut costs and find new revenue sources, and we can’t do that (with a) sales tax,” Morani said.
Columbia had the same referendum in November’s election, but it failed 2,113 votes to 1,336 votes.