The Neosho City Council on Wednesday postponed public discussions on whether or not to appeal a November court decision regarding their challenge of the Neosho Transportation Development District.
Meanwhile, the Neosho TDD board intends to file a lawsuit against city attorney Steve Hays and the law firm Gilmore and Bell, who has represented both the city and the TDD at different times.
The council was scheduled to discuss the potential TDD appeal in Wednesday morning’s meeting, though before beginning that discussion, the council went into closed session to discuss correspondence Hays had received Tuesday evening.
Richard Davidson, Neosho mayor, did not share the content of the letter, though council members described it as a “game changer.”
Davidson said the correspondence came from a third party, not directly from the TDD, though it does relate to the district.
“The letter related to actions of the TDD that would question its, I don’t know really what it would question at this point, it’s just stating there are some questions they want answered,” Davidson said.
He said the city attorney would follow up on that letter, and council would further discuss its implications in a scheduled closed session at Tuesday evening’s council meeting.
The council was not scheduled to go into closed session on Wednesday, and that session was not posted on any public agendas, contrary to the requirements of the Missouri Sunshine Law Section 610.020.
However, that section also states that if the required 24-hour notice is not given, the reasons should be stated in the meeting’s minutes.
Davidson said because the correspondence was not received until the evening prior, the council was unable to post notice in advance, and asked that it be noted in the meeting minutes.
“Given the letter that was received last night, that totally changes the playing field, until we have more understanding of what that means, which we will do on Tuesday, I don’t believe it’s appropriate now that we take any action on the appeal one way or the other,” Davidson said.
While Davidson would not comment specifically on the content of the letter, he did note that it was unrelated to the TDD’s expected legal move against the city’s attorneys.
Ray Stipp, TDD board chairman, said he was not familiar with the correspondence council had received, though he did confirm that the TDD is working with attorneys to seek legal action against Hays and Gilmore and Bell.
“We are involved with our attorneys to seek a recovery of legal expenses that were due to the mistakes made in the filing for the TDD,” Stipp said. “The legal expenses were incurred by defending our actions against the city’s attempts to kill the TDD.”
Page 2 of 2 - The city filed a petition in August 2012 in Newton County Court to challenge the validity of the TDD, based on the statute subsection it was formed under.
However, Judge Kevin Selby ruled against the city’s petition in a Nov. 30 court date, basing his ruling on the doctrine of laches, which means the city waited too long to bring their complaint forward.
While the council has not publicly announced a decision to appeal Selby’s ruling, Hays did file a notice of appeal on Jan. 17.
However, Davidson said that move was procedural, meant to protect the council’s right to appeal if they decide to do so.
With the chance of appeal still up in the air, Stipp said the remainder of the TDD projects, aside from the traffic light at Kodiak Road and Highway 60, have been put on hold pending the council’s decision.