By Roger McKinney
NEOSHO, Mo. —
The Neosho City Council on Tuesday rescinded a letter of support it approved for the Neosho Transportation Development District when it was created.
The council also withdrew from a cooperative agreement with the TDD.
Mayor Richard Davidson on Wednesday characterized the actions as “paperwork” to prepare for what would replace the TDD, when the city could approve new measures.
Ray Stipp, the TDD chairman, doesn’t see it that way.
“That’s not our understanding,” Stipp said. “We’ll have to see what our attorneys say. That may be a game-changer.”
The city has filed legal action against the TDD, challenging the district’s validity. The challenge alleges that the TDD was formed improperly, under an incorrect state statute.
The TDD, formed in 2010, began collecting a half-cent sales tax within its boundaries in January to pay for $4.5 million in transportation projects along U.S. Highway 60. The Missouri Department of Transportation agreed to pay $2.4 million toward the projects.
Davidson said both the support letter and the cooperative agreement would need to be redone if either a Community Improvement District or a city-county TDD were established. He said both are options being discussed by attorneys as a possible solution.
He said the actions shouldn’t be interpreted as lack of desire by the city to cooperate.
“It’s more of a paperwork issue,” the mayor said.
Richardson said he is hopeful for a positive resolution.
“There continues to be conversations” between attorneys, Richardson said. “Those conversations remain constructive.”
Stipp said he, too, was hopeful for a resolution, until the City Council’s actions on Tuesday.
“We thought there was progress until the City Council voted to rescind the cooperative agreement and the letter of support,” Stipp said. He said it could cause major issues with MoDOT and the TDD’s lender, Arvest Bank.
“We’ll have to see how MoDOT and the lender react to it,” Stipp said.
Richardson said Stipp has the wrong idea.
“Mr. Stipp needs to be more concerned about the TDD and how it’s going to be fixed,” Richardson said. “They should be assured that the actions we took on Tuesday were to try to address the problem.”
Richardson said the city’s concern continues to be getting a traffic signal installed at Highway 60 and Kodiak Road. The city has pledged to fund the state’s portion of the traffic signal.
“My primary concern is protecting the safety of adults and children at that intersection,” Richardson said. “I also want assurance that any tax is done in compliance with the law. Any other comments or distractions offered by others are simply that.”
A NOV. 30 COURT HEARING has been set on the city’s legal challenge to the TDD, after being rescheduled from Oct. 29.