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Neosho Daily News - Neosho, MO
  • TDD questions taxpayer lawsuit

  • The Neosho Transportation Development District's Board of Directors released a statement Thursday reiterating an earlier comment from the board's chairman, making clear that the group is unaware of a taxpayer lawsuit.
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  • The Neosho Transportation Development District's Board of Directors released a statement Thursday reiterating an earlier comment from the board's chairman, making clear that the group is unaware of a taxpayer lawsuit.
    Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson said city attorney Steve Hays received correspondence from an attorney representing a local taxpayer, notifying the city that a taxpayer lawsuit is in the works, challenging the sales tax implemented by the TDD.
    However, the TDD board questioned the existence of that lawsuit on Thursday.
    "Anyone can threaten litigation and often those threats are made to deter actions of others without actually following through with legal actions," the board said in statement.
    The statement also suggested that the city had spoken of a taxpayer lawsuit in previous months, including when the city challenged the validity of the TDD in court last summer.
    "In the last few days city officials have again indicated an unnamed attorney representing an unnamed plaintiff will be filing a taxpayer challenge to the validity of the TDD," the statement read. "The TDD has received no notice of such an action by anyone."
    While the city is not releasing the name of the taxpayer, as the suit has not yet been filed, Davidson maintained on Thursday evening that the taxpayer challenge is legitimate.
    "The city received a letter from an attorney indicating a taxpayer lawsuit filing is imminent, which is the first indication we have ever received in writing that a taxpayer lawsuit would be filed," Davidson said. "We have no reason to doubt the authenticity and sincerity of the letter."
    In addition, Davidson said the city has not reported any taxpayer lawsuits in the past, while there was speculation that the issues the city has identified with the TDD could open both the city and TDD up to a taxpayer lawsuit.
    "We never said there was one coming in the past, I think our legal counsel said that this type of flaw would open the city up and the TDD up to a taxpayer lawsuit," Davidson said. "That's what we were wanting to avoid."
    The city filed a petition in Aug. 2012 in Newton County Court challenging the validity of the TDD based on the state statute it was formed under paired with who acts as voters within the district.
    Judge Kevin Selby ruled against the city's challenge in November, and city attorney Steve Hays filed a notice of appeal on Jan. 17.
    The city has not publicly discussed an appeal, with plans to do so halted by the receipt of the letter informing the city of a pending taxpayer lawsuit.
    While one of the TDD's projects has already begun, a stoplight at Kodiak Road and Highway 60, all others have been halted due to the city's notice of appeal.
    Page 2 of 2 - "This action by the City of Neosho caused MoDOT to cease engineering for the remainder of the TDD project improvements until the issue is settled," the TDD board said in the same release. "We, as board members of the TDD, encourage the City Council of Neosho to terminate its notice of appeal and allow these much-needed improvements to commence."
    Meanwhile, TDD board members voted Thursday to schedule a property owners meeting and directors election for 3 p.m. Tuesday, April 30 at the Neosho Area Chamber of Commerce.
    The board will vote on two directors positions that day.
    The TDD was created in February 2011, stretching from Waldo Hatler Drive to Industrial Drive and from Kodiak Road to just east of Laramie Lane.
    There are $6.9 million in projects planned for the district, including the addition of outer roads along Highway 60 and three traffic lights.
    A half-cent sales tax has been collected within the district since Jan. 2012, and will sunset after 20 years.

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