By Roger McKinney
NEOSHO, Mo. —
The Big Spring Plaza Community Improvement District owes Neosho $158,257, City Manager Troy Royer told the Neosho City Council on Tuesday night.
Royer had filed an open-records request under the Missouri Sunshine Law with officers of the CID he could identify, which he had said wasn’t easy.
The City Council formed the CID in 2006. The five property owners in the district approved a 20-year, 1-cent sales tax and became the board of the directors of the independent political subdivision. Tax revenues were used to build a road to a strip mall on the south side of the Wal-Mart parking lot.
The CID was inside an already existing tax increment financing, or TIF, district. The city had an agreement with the TIF district that the city would be reimbursed half of any new tax revenue in the district. The city has received no money from the CID since it began collecting revenue, according to Royer.
Royer said the CID sales tax total since 2006 is $316,513.
CID attorney Carl Yates, of Springfield, last week acknowledged that the CID had a liability to the city in excess of $100,000.
City Attorney Steve Hays said the money is involved in a legal dispute between the CID board and the developer, who the board members had made the board chairman. He said the city should send a bill to the CID.
“We can’t get blood from a turnip, but we can squeeze, and we may get something,” he said. “We’re kind of in a little bit of limbo.”
Councilman Steve Hart said because there has been no oversight, taxpayers were the victims.
“It’s just a bad deal for the taxpayers,” Hart said.
Councilman Charles Collinsworth said that if the sales tax is projected out to 20 years, the city’s portion would be close to $500,000.
“Can anybody name an ABC, or an alphabet group, that’s been good for this town?” Collinsworth asked.
Mayor Richard Davidson said the city had proposed a CID to replace the Transportation Development District, but the CID proposed by the city would have board members appointed by the council and would have oversight.
“There are ways to make CIDs accountable,” Davidson said.
The city has had legal conflicts with the TDD, and is considering appealing a court ruling against the city that allowed the TDD to continue. The city has until July 17 to file an appeal.
The TDD is funded by a half-cent sales tax collected by businesses within the district, a retail area along U.S. Highway 60. The sales tax revenues will pay the TDD’s $4.5 million share of the cost of transportation projects in the district. The Missouri Department of Transportation has agreed to pay the remaining $2.4 million share of the nearly $7 million worth of projects.
All but a project at Kodiak Road that had already started have been placed on hold by the state pending resolution of the legal issues.
THE NEOSHO COUNCIL on Tuesday approved an engineering agreement and construction contract for repairing the stairway at Big Spring Park. Work is expected to start within two weeks and conclude by Oct. 1.