A Newton County judge ruled Friday in favor of the Neosho Transportation Development District, allowing the entity to continue despite the City of Neosho's belief that the TDD is invalid.
The hearing in front of Division III Associate Circuit Court Judge Kevin Selby was in response to a petition filed by the City of Neosho this past August, which alleged that the TDD was improperly formed, based on the state statute it was formed under and on who acts as the voters within the district.
Richard Davidson, Neosho Mayor, said the judge's ruling was based on the doctrine of laches, meaning the city waited too long to bring the issue forward.
"It's important to note, the judge didn't say the TDD was valid, the judge didn't say the TDD was legal, the judge didn't rule on the validity or the legality of the TDD, all they said was the city took too long to come forth and raise the question," Davidson said.
He also noted that the city only discovered the flaw one week prior to submitting their petition.
However, the TDD interpreted the judge's ruling differently, and board chairman Ray Stipp said it was, in fact, a ruling verifying the TDD's validity.
"For all practical purposes, the TDD is now valid, because the judge has opined that it is," Stipp said.
Both men said they expect Selby's court order to be released at some point mid-week.
Meanwhile, Davidson said the city council would wait for the court order before determining their next move, though he did not rule out a potential appeal.
"The city council will have to talk about that some more," Davidson said. "The mechanism to start the appeal is just to file a notice that we're going to appeal, and that doesn't cost anything, it protects our right to do so. I would say today that the council's direction has been to preserve those rights whether that means a legal fight, it's too early to tell, we really need to see what the judge's order says."
The TDD was created in February 2011 and stretches from Waldo Hatler Drive to Industrial Drive, and from Kodiak Road to just east of Laramie Lane.
The group has been collecting a half-cent sales tax within its borders since January 1.
The district was formed under RSMo 238.207.2, which requires the petition of a single local transportation authority, which the City of Neosho acted as.
While both the city and the TDD board had discussed pursuing the formation of a community improvement district, to take the place of the TDD and avoid the legal questions that were surrounding the TDD, Stipp said following the judge's ruling, the TDD will now go on as planned.
"We're good to go on projects, our lender is there, MoDOT is there, we could begin projects," Stipp said.
Page 2 of 2 - He said Neosho residents could see work on a traffic light at Kodiak Road and Highway 60 begin as early as the spring.