Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • TDD election set for Friday

  • The Neosho Transportation Development District will hold its court-ordered board of directors election on Friday, though the City of Neosho will not be voting.
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  • The Neosho Transportation Development District will hold its court-ordered board of directors election on Friday, though the City of Neosho will not be voting.
    Separately, a scheduled Monday court hearing that would presumably rule on a city-filed suit that the TDD was unlawfully formed has been canceled and no new date set, according to the parties involved.
    Property owners within the TDD, who act as the voters of the district, will meet at 10 a.m. Friday at the Hale McGinty Business Development Center in Neosho to cast their ballots for the one-year term open on the board. They may also vote by proxy and by mailed-in ballot.
    Dr. Jim Cummins, who currently occupies the seat up for election, and who serves as chairman of that board, confirmed Wednesday that he will not seek reelection, three and a half months after beating out city-backed candidate Steve Roark for the position in an election that was later tossed out by the court.
    On Aug. 28, 40th Associate Circuit Court Judge Kevin Selby ordered that TDD's July 16th election be set aside, and a new election scheduled. This was in response to a city petition that lawful notice of the July 16 election was not published once a week for two consecutive weeks prior to the contest as required by state law. Friday’s election has met those requirements. The court ordered that a new election be held in “not less than 60 days” which TDD officials and attorneys have interpreted to mean within 60 days. However, Monday's now-postponed court hearing could have feasibly rendered that election moot.
    Officials from both sides said Wednesday they recently received notice that the hearing had been removed from the docket, and as of Wednesday were not aware if it had been rescheduled or not. A new court date, or lack thereof, could not be separately verified as of Wednesday evening.
    That hearing was to be the result of another petition filed by the city that the Neosho TDD was formed under the wrong state statute. However, in his Aug. 28 ruling, Selby ordered the two parties to “work together to take such actions to resolve any remaining issues” prior to the court hearing on the TDD's legitimacy. Private negotiations between the city and the TDD have been ongoing, though publicly the relationship between the two entities has been strained.
    Meanwhile, Neosho officials say the city, the largest single landowner in the TDD, where votes are based on acreage, will neither nominate a candidate nor otherwise participate in Friday's TDD board election, since the city is currently challenging the district's legitimacy in court.
    “We stated in our petition that we do not believe the TDD was formed correctly, that it is a flawed entity,” said Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson on Wednesday evening. “Any action by the city to nominate or vote in any election now that we filed that petition would imply that the actions of the TDD board are valid.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Cummins said Wednesday night that he understood the city's position, but also said he hoped the city and the TDD could still work together to arrive at an agreeable solution to the legal challenges and remaining issues before any future court hearing. However, Cummins will not be part of that process, as he said Wednesday he will not seek reelection to the TDD board.
    “I'm a firm believer in community service and I feel like I've tried to bridge that gap between the city and the TDD, but I have a ton of ongoing responsibilities at work and that has to be my number one priority,” said Cummins, who is vice-president of finance at Crowder College. “It sounds like there still continues to be progress between the city and the TDD, which is a good thing, and we're hopeful that it will be resolved ... I think we're continuing to hammer out something to arrive at a fix, something to go to the judge with before he has to make a ruling. That would be the ideal case. Maybe [the hearing being postponed] gives us a little bit more time.”
    Davidson said that the two parties' respective attorneys had a conference call Wednesday afternoon to discuss the latest proposals being put forward between the city and the TDD, though he wouldn't go into detail, noting that neither group had yet been formally updated.
    “The TDD brought up some ideas and the city refined those ideas and discussed those proposals, but those proposals are still with the attorneys,” Davidson said.
    No matter the outcome of the TDD's legal issues, Davidson noted that it was urgent the planned stoplight and improved intersection at U.S. Highway 60 and Kodiak Road happen as soon as possible, as the court had ordered on Aug. 28. Top officials with the Missouri Department of Transportation have said the state cannot split up its total $2.4 million cost share in the TDD for a single project, and has given a Dec. 1 deadline for the TDD issues to be resolved. City officials say the city has offered to pay the local cost share instead, regardless of the TDD.
    “The city remains concerned that the delays in the installation of the traffic light are putting public safety at risk and we are continuing to seek guidance from MoDOT in what they desire from the city to expedite the installation of that light,” Davidson said. “We support the judge's decision when he directed that that light be installed and we look forward to getting that resolved as soon as possible.”
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