The chairman of the Neosho Transportation Development District's board of directors said Wednesday that he is unaware of a pending taxpayer lawsuit challenging the district.

The chairman of the Neosho Transportation Development District's board of directors said Wednesday that he is unaware of a pending taxpayer lawsuit challenging the district.

Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson said Tuesday that the city had received correspondence from an attorney informing the city that a single taxpayer is prepared to file a suit challenging the sales tax implemented by the Neosho TDD.

Davidson said the pending suit appears to be based on the same issue the city brought forward last August, that based on the state statute the TDD was formed under, the wrong people are acting as voters in the district.

"If it is the same argument, the judge ruled on that argument in court," said TDD Board Chairman Ray Stipp, referring to Newton County Judge Kevin Selby's November ruling against the city's petition. "We've had no contact by anyone regarding a taxpayer lawsuit."

While it is only speculation until the suit is formally filed, Davidson said city attorney Steve Hays has indicated that it is likely the city would be named as a co-defendant on the case, as the city acted as a sponsor to the TDD when it was formed.

The district was formed in February 2011, under subsection 2 of RSMo 238.207, which requires the petition of a single local transportation authority, which the City of Neosho acted as.

The city's petition, filed in August 2012, challenged the validity of the TDD based on the property owners acting as the voters in the district. Their petition pointed to RSMo 238.202.2, which only identifies property owners as the legal voters in a TDD when the district is formed under subsections 1 or 5 of RSMo 238.207.

Though subsection 2 is not specifically named under RSMo 238.202.2, the section does name legal residents as the qualified voters when the TDD is formed under any subsection other than 1 or 5 of 238.207.
Meanwhile, the TDD was set to hold a meeting of property owners and election of directors at 3 p.m. today, however, that meeting was canceled on Wednesday, due to an error in the published notice of the meeting.
Legal notice was published in both the March 15 and March 22 editions of the Neosho Daily News, however, it was discovered Wednesday that those notices had been submitted with the wrong date.

"In order to ensure that notice is properly given to the property owners and the public, the meeting has been canceled and will be rescheduled later this month as soon as possible after the newspaper notice is revised and republished in accordance with the publication notice timeframes in the transportation development district statutes," the TDD said in a Wednesday news release.

The TDD's board of directors will instead meet at 4 p.m. today, at which time they are scheduled to set a new date for the election.

The directors will consider setting the property owners meeting and directors election for 3 p.m. on April 30.
The board of directors is also scheduled to meet in closed session to discuss legal issues.

The district stretches from Waldo Hatler Drive to Industrial Drive, and from Kodiak Road to just east of Laramie Lane.

A half-cent sales tax has been collected within the district since Jan. 2012.

The district has planned $6.9 million in road improvements along Highway 60, including the addition of outer roads and traffic lights.

The first of the TDD projects, a stoplight at Kodiak Road and Highway 60, is under way, with work starting last month and set to be completed this summer.

However, Dan Salisbury, engineer with the Missouri Department of Transportation, who are working with the TDD on the projects, said all other projects have been stalled until MoDOT sees full community support.

Stipp said the decision to stall the projects came in response to the city filing a notice of appeal of their challenge of the TDD.

While the council has not publicly announced a decision to appeal Selby's November ruling, city attorney Steve Hays filed a notice of appeal Jan. 17.

The council was set to discuss whether or not to move forward on an appeal last Wednesday, however, notice of the pending taxpayer lawsuit prompted council to postpone that discussion.

"As of tonight the council has not yet decided to withdraw its appeal or stop the appeal process," Davidson said on Tuesday. "We've got to continue to understand what this taxpayer lawsuit could mean to the city and we're not done with that discussion."