The City of Neosho is moving forward with attempts to collect sales tax funds they say are owed to them by the Big Spring Plaza Community Improvement District.
Troy Royer, Neosho City Manager, told council members Tuesday evening that the city had filed a sunshine request, under Missouri Sunshine Law, asking the CID consultant, chairman and custodian of records to provide sales tax numbers to the city.
"We did try to attempt to get these numbers from the Department of Revenue, however, since they're another taxing entity, we did not have the authority to get the numbers from them," Royer said. "They told us we'd have to contact the CID directly."
Royer said the request was filed on Monday, and that this is the city's first attempt to collect the figures from the board.
The Big Spring Plaza CID was approved by the Neosho City Council in February 2006 and operates as a separate political subdivision.
The district collects a 1 percent sales tax within its borders, and includes the Big Spring Plaza Shopping Center.
The district's boundaries are Industrial Drive, to the south, Lusk Drive, to the west, Clemons Drive to the north and Business 49 to the east.
According to the ordinance passed by council forming the district, the CID is to be governed by a board of five directors, made up of owners, those owning real property in the district, operators, those owning a business in the district, or registered voters who own and occupy a residence within the district.
At the time of the board's formation, the directors were Barry Clark, Lavern Beaver, John Beshears, Claude Hammons and Todd Lawton.
Neosho City Attorney Steve Hays said the board is currently made up of Beaver, Beshears and Hammons, with Hammons serving as the chairperson.
Contact information available for the three board members was not current, and a call made to the district's consultant, Darrell Gross, was not returned.
Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson said the city believes they should be receiving 50 percent of the 1 percent sales tax revenue, because the CID is located within a tax increment financing (TIF) entity.
"It's important to remember, the TIF recapture is to pay in part the debt that's already been incurred for projects that made it possible to put in infrastructure for businesses to develop," Davidson said. "Here's an example of the city getting stuck with the bill on infrastructure improvements and not getting money back that they were promised."
Royer said the city is unsure of how much they are owed in back sales tax.
"It's hard to tell because we don't know all of the businesses that were in there all the way back without getting into the records," Royer said.
He said he estimated, based on the city's one-cent sales tax received from the businesses currently located at the Big Spring Plaza, that over a five-month period, from December to April, the city was owed approximately $11,700.
Page 2 of 2 - Davidson said the city did not discover that it was owed the funds until late 2011, after the same discussion surfaced during the formation of the Neosho Transportation Development District.
"It's only the last 18 months that we've been pushing to get these answers," Davidson said.
According to the city ordinance forming the CID, once a director's term expires, the slate of candidates are supposed to go before the council, though Davidson said in his time on council the appointment of directors to the CID board has not been brought before them.
Hays, who was also city attorney at the time of the CID formation, said no director appointments have come before council since the initial directors were voted on at the time the CID was formed.
However, all five terms, set for two and four years, have since expired.
"You have taxing entities that aren't accountable to the voters, that aren't elected by voters, who are you going to call?" Davidson posed to council. "Who in here would know who to call on a CID? Nobody would."
Hays said based on Missouri Sunshine Law, the recipients of the information request have 72 hours to provide the city with the requested information, or notify the city of when those documents will be available.
"In the event they completely stonewall and just ignore it, it is an actionable cause that we would end up in litigation if the council so desires," Hays said.
Royer said on Thursday that the city had not received any information regarding their information request.