By Roger McKinney
NEOSHO, Mo. —
The Neosho City Council on Tuesday night again addressed its continuing issues with the Neosho Transportation Development District.
Also addressed was a Sept. 20 letter from TDD board Chairman Jim Cummins to Missouri Transportation Department Director Kevin Keith. In the letter, Cummins acknowledges that the TDD wasn’t created properly.
That matters because the city filed a court petition that could result in the TDD being dissolved. The city contends that because the district’s boundaries were established to not include any residential property, there were no resident owners qualified to vote in the election that originally formed the district.
“While the NTDD acknowledges, based on legal advice, that it was not properly formed in accordance with Missouri statutes, we believe, based on pertinent case law and other factors, the NTDD is not invalid,” reads a section of the letter from Cummins to Keith, a copy of which was provided to the city.
“They’ve validated our concern,” said Mayor Richard Davidson.
“It’s interesting that they finally admitted it,” said Councilman Steve Hart.
City Attorney Steven Hays said he disagreed with Cummins’ interpretation that the matter could be settled by a judge’s ruling.
Davidson and Hays repeated the city’s interest in completing the traffic signal at U.S. Highway 60 and Kodiak Road, including paying the cost-share on the project. The state Department of Transportation has pledged matching funds of $2.4 million for the project.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to make that light happen,” Davidson said.
Councilman Charles Collinsworth said that while the TDD is telling the public that it is working with the city, that’s not the case. The TDD’s attorney is communicating with the city attorney, but he said that is all the communication that is taking place. He said pressure should be exerted.
“This is not the time to trivialize or politicize safety, and I’m sick of it,” Collinsworth said.
The transportation district was formed in November 2010. The district, which takes in several retail stores, collects a half-cent sales tax within its boundaries to pay for transportation projects.
A COURT HEARING on the city’s petition is scheduled for Oct. 29, and Neosho City Attorney Steven Hays said he doesn’t think the issues could be settled before then.