The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 11, 2014

Neosho TDD lines up interim financing to speed projects

NEOSHO, Mo. — The Neosho Transportation Development District board is looking to pay back money it owes to the Missouri Department of Transportation.

“We owe MoDOT about $458,000 for our share of the Kodiak project,” said board Chairman Steve Roark in a phone interview this week. “We have to get that paid before they release their engineers to start work on our other projects.”

He referred to the project at Kodiak Road and U.S. Highway 60, which added a traffic signal and turn lanes.

“We have about $300,000 in the bank right now,” Roark said. He said the Neosho Area Business and Industrial Foundation Inc. has agreed to lend up to $250,000 so the TDD can repay MoDOT. The interest rate on the loan is just under 4 percent.

“We’re going to get them paid back in six months time,” Roark said.

Roark said the TDD also is seeking permanent financing of about $400,000 over 15 years.

“The first avenue we’re pursuing on that is a USDA loan,” he said, referring to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “They do have a direct loan program. We also are looking into some other options.”

Roark said the interest on the USDA loan would be around 4 percent.

He said the USDA previously had a guaranteed loan program, but that is no longer available.

The TDD began collecting a half-cent sales tax in January 2012 within the district along U.S. Highway 60 that includes Wal-Mart and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores. Revenues from the tax will finance the TDD’s $4.5 million share of nearly $7 million worth of transportation projects, with MoDOT contributing the remaining $2.4 million.

“Our sales tax revenue is $40,000 to $45,000 a month,” Roark said.

The city and the TDD were involved in a long and costly legal battle, which the TDD won. The combined legal costs of the two entities have been at least $416,000. Roark said the delays have had consequences.

“We’re going to move forward in the environment we’re living in now,” Roark said. “We can’t get the past two years back.”

He said construction on additional projects won’t start this year.

“We’re looking at construction in 2015, a year from now, hopefully in one construction season,” Roark said. “We don’t know that yet, but we’re optimistic.”

Roark said Mike Franks, the economic development director for the Neosho Area Business and Industrial Foundation, is working to recruit developers for the district.

“We’re really excited about the level of interest we’re getting from developers,” Roark said. “It’s a very exciting time.”



Commitment

STEVE ROARK, chairman of the Neosho Transportation Development District board, said the Missouri Department of Transportation and MoDOT area engineer Dan Salisbury remain committed to the TDD projects. “Their support for this project has never wavered,” Roark said.

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