The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 30, 2012

Legal ruling needed before Neosho TDD work will proceed

Lone resident living inside boundary may be game changer

NEOSHO, Mo. — When the Neosho City Council and the Neosho Transportation Development District reached an agreement on maintaining future TDD roads just days before a March 31 deadline imposed by the Missouri Department of Transportation, it appeared that one of the last hurdles had been cleared before work could begin.

But the discovery of a lone resident living within the TDD’s boundaries has not only stalled the $7.5 million in proposed improvements, but could also undo previous TDD votes.

City Attorney Steve Hays informed the council last week that unbeknownst to TDD or city officials, a registered voter was living within the TDD at the time the district’s first board was elected and also at the time that TDD members voted to impose a half-cent sales tax on purchases made within the district. The sales tax revenue is what the TDD is using to pay off a loan it took out from Arvest Bank to finance proposed projects.

The district’s boundaries were intended to exclude residential areas, Hays said, thus ensuring votes exclusive to people who own property within the 527-acre district.

But according to Hays, Rick Mitchell purchased the Neosho Inn, near the intersection of Business Highway 71 and U.S. Highway 60, in October 2010. Mitchell soon moved into the motel, which is located within the TDD. Hays said Mitchell also registered two vehicles that month and, in the process of doing so, registered to vote. Mitchell listed the Neosho Inn as his residence.

Mitchell said he did not participate in previous TDD votes, either as a resident or as a property owner, and that he was not even aware of issues relating to TDD votes until about two weeks ago, when he was approached by Hays.

“It’s funny because I’ve been here for a year and a half, and nobody has cared about me until now,” Mitchell said last week.

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