An appeal of a November 2012 Newton County court ruling regarding the city’s challenge of the formation of the transportation development district has been turned down.

An appeal of a November 2012 Newton County court ruling regarding the city’s challenge of the formation of the transportation development district has been turned down.

Word of the appeal’s denial came Wednesday afternoon as the TDD board was meeting in regular session. Ray Stipp, TDD board member, received a text from Chris Williams, one of the board’s attorneys in the case, saying the appeal had been denied by the Southern District Court of Appeals.

The news was met by elation in the board room.

“This is a huge thing for Neosho, the biggest thing since Rocketdyne,” said Stipp.

“This is also important for the safety of the surrounding area,” said board member Jeff Maxwell.

Last November, Newton County Division III Associate Circuit Court Judge Kevin Selby ruled the city waited too long to challenge the formation of the district. This ruling allowed the collection of a half-cent sales tax by businesses in the district to partially fund $6.9 million in transportation projects, The Missouri Department of Transportation will fund $2.4 million, with the TDD picking up the rest of the tab with proceeds from the sales tax.

The city had contested the district under a subsection of a state law which the district was founded. Under the subsection, only residents who live within the TDD boundaries can vote to form a district. The mayor stressed there are no residents in the district, therefore, the ballot forming the district was invalid.

The city had contended that when a representative of the Missouri Department of Transportation cast a ballot in an officer election a few years ago, it did so wrongly, as only residents of the district can vote. It was during research into why MoDOT cannot vote that attorneys discovered the TDD had been filed under a subsection of the law that allowed residents of the proposed district to vote on the issue and not property owners.

“I’ll start by saying this is in no way a loss for the city,” Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson said. “From the beginning of the appeal, we have said we simply wanted an answer — one way or another — that the TDD was valid. This decision by the court gives us a guard of protection against future actions that, if successful, could have cost the city much more than the monies spent to get the answer received today.

While the city has no control over the spending of this 20-year tax, many of the proposed projects cited could be very beneficial to Neosho as a whole. Promoting the growth of development — both commercial and industrial — remains a key to the city's future. This project has the potential to grow our commercial base significantly. I continue to support the TDD's overall goals.”

Davidson said while he could not speak for the entire council, he personally believed there was no reason to further appeal the decision.

The TDD was established in February 2011 and stretches from Waldo Hatler Drive to Industrial Drive and from Kodiak Road to just east of Laramie Lane.

The planned improvements include the addition of outer roads near U.S. 60, as well as intersection improvements.

A half-cent sales tax has been collected within the district’s borders since January 2012 and sunsets after 20 years.

The planned projects are to be funded by a $2.4 million cost share agreement with the Missouri Department of Transportation, and by sales tax revenue, expected to cover the remaining $4.5 million in projects.