The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 29, 2012

Neosho TDD board declines agreement with city

By Roger McKinney

NEOSHO, Mo. — Representatives of the city of Neosho and the Neosho Transportation Development District will be in court today, after the TDD board on Thursday rejected a last-ditch settlement.

The city had filed legal action challenging the validity of the TDD, after a disputed TDD board election in June. The city alleged that the TDD was formed under the wrong state statute.

The TDD in January began collecting a half-cent sales tax within its boundaries to pay for $4.5 million in transportation projects along U.S. Highway 60, an area that includes several retail stores. The board heard Thursday that the sales tax revenues at the end of November totaled $387,121.

The Missouri Department of Transportation has agreed to pay $2.4 million toward the projects, for a total of nearly $7 million in projects.

The Neosho City Council on Tuesday night put forward an agreement that would allow the TDD to continue until a city-controlled community improvement district could be established to take its place. The CID would accept all the projects in the TDD plan. Mayor Richard Davidson said Tuesday that an email from the TDD board’s attorney was seen by the city as an opening to an agreement.

Davidson couldn’t immediately be reached for comment after the TDD board meeting Thursday.

Under the city proposal, the TDD’s half-cent sales tax would continue at least long enough to pay its debts, and it wouldn’t incur any further debts. The tax would be suspended when the debt was paid. The CID would propose and vote on a new tax when it was established, under the plan.

The TDD board met behind closed doors with its attorney in a telephone conference call.

Board chairman Ray Stipp said the sticking points included that the city proposal didn’t acknowledge that the TDD is valid. He also said the city’s plan didn’t have a cooperative agreement in place with the TDD. Stipp said both are requirements of its agreements with MoDOT and with its lender.

He said the TDD cannot negotiate those items.

“Based on conversations with our legal counsel, we have no alternative but to go to the hearing and present our case to the judge,” Stipp said.

Stipp said it wasn’t possible for the board to bend on either issue.

“Our hands are tied,” he said.

In court

THE COURT HEARING is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today before Associate Judge Kevin Selby in Newton County Circuit Court.