It’s been a busy week. As I write this, I’m on my way to Mexico for business. At the same time, our city attorney is waiting to hear back from the TDD after our meeting Tuesday night as to their acceptance of our final compromise prior to the scheduled court hearing (set for today.) By the time I get back from Mexico late tonight, I expect there will be resolution — one way or another.
Your city council met Tuesday night after receiving additional correspondence from the TDD’s attorneys. That correspondence arrived last week after 5 p.m. Wednesday night. With the holiday last week, Tuesday was the first day we could hold a meeting (with 24 hour notice) and respond to the TDD’s latest comments. To make our message clear and get it to those on the other side quicker, we also met in open session to discuss our proposal so everyone could hear what was being said, including the two members of the TDD board who came.
I wanted to summarize for you what was discussed and the final compromise offered by the city to fix the legal problems being faced by the TDD:
1. The TDD was concerned that it needed to continue to operate and collect its tax – at least until it could pay off debt it owed to NABIFI. Since the city’s CID proposal included a hesitation (or more bluntly a refusal) to “assume” any TDD debt, we didn’t oppose that. But we did suggest that no new debt should be incurred. Since no projects are under way, that’s not a hard thing to do.
2. The TDD was concerned that we wouldn’t do all of the projects that were in the TDD’s current plan. We committed to do so – to the extent we could afford it. It’s often not mentioned that even the TDD’s current plan and tax MAY NOT cover all of the projects proposed. Expecting the CID to do more with the same amount of money is ridiculous. The idea was suggested that the CID “extend” the tax an extra five years to ensure the additional projects could be done. We refused – only because we’re trying to “fix” a problem with a law – not “fix” a problem with revenue. We do, however, remain committed to using some city funds to help with the projects. We also plan to prioritize dealing with the known and existing safety and traffic issues around the schools FIRST before we build more roads that relate to future growth of traffic in those same areas.
3. The so-called MoDOT deadline of Dec. 1 to resolve this has also (apparently) gone away. Some legal ideas proposed by the TDD (and I assume MoDOT) give the CID some flexibility. That’s good. Those “convenient” deadlines only worked to impede, not assist, in finding a resolution. It appears the $2.4 million coming from Washington, D.C. through MoDOT remains safe.
Page 2 of 2 - 4. The CID will be setup quickly and hopes to be in business early in 2013 to move forward. For a project that’s been in the works for almost five years, a couple of months of delays to make sure it’s done right doesn’t seem like too much of a sacrifice to me.
So there it is – a resolution and compromise that I hope everyone can get on board with and advance. Working side by side with the current TDD members and others to make this happen must still happen. Hopefully, we can all put aside any issues that distract us from the ultimate goal of making Neosho better. I certainly want to see it happen – in a well-planned, legal, transparent way that offers taxpayers all available protections!
I hope to see you at the Christmas parade and Dickens events Saturday. I’ll be cooking pancakes at the Civic Saturday morning and will be standing with Santa on the fire truck Saturday night!
Until next time: stay the course, keep the faith, and may God bless Neosho!
Richard Davidson is mayor of Neosho.