NEOSHO, Mo. — The Newton County Commission released a statement Friday afternoon following a suit from The City of Neosho alleging that the County had failed to perform their duties as part of Neosho’s TIF Act.
The County Commission says that the City’s claim that the County “disregarded their duty under Missouri law to pay portions of sales tax money to the City” is a misrepresentation of the truth.
As of September 29th of this year, the County stated “Upon receipt of the EATS [TIF Funds/sales tax] Invoices, the County will cause such obligation to be included in the 2022 County budget for appropriation and payment to the treasurer for deposit in the EATS Account of the TIF Fund. The County will also project estimated 2022 EATS from the trending data of the EATS Invoices to budget for the 2022 EATS collection and payment to the treasurer for deposit in the EATS Account of the TIF Fund.
In the release, the County specifies that they are following the the practice required of them where “payment is made after receipt of a detailed invoicing from the City is reviewed and reconciled to County tax collections per the Redevelopment Plan” – but the County has not received an invoice after 2016.
Also noted by the Commission was the City’s lack of periodic TIF Act required public hearings which have not been held since plan adoption in 1999. These hearings would allow all taxing districts located within the Neosho TIF to receive a full accounting of TIF receipts and disbursements.
Taxing districts, such as the Neosho R-5 School District, could therefore face a return of surplus funds not expended on the projects meant for the Redevelopment Plan.
As the TIF approaches its termination in July 2022, the County says they are only looking for the receipts and expenditures related to the TIF and are asking the City to provide financial documentation that they have lawfully allocated portions of sales tax into the TIF fund.
NEOSHO, Mo. — The City of Neosho has filed suit against Newton County and two of its officials claiming that they disregarded their duty under Missouri law to pay portions of sales tax money to the City, according to a press release.
Filed on October 6th the suit claims that while for over 15 years (since 1999, Ord No. 98-30) Newton County paid their portion of TIF funds towards the City’s “Redevelopment Area”, then simply stopped in 2015 and never resumed.
The TIF Act describes the Redevelopment Plan as “the comprehensive program of a municipality for redevelopment intended by the payment of redevelopment costs to reduce or eliminate those conditions, the existence of which qualified the redevelopment area as a blighted area…, and to thereby enhance the tax bases of the taxing districts which extend into the redevelopment area.”
The City had planned to use the funds from the County along with a grant from MODOT to help with public projects. One of these being traffic safety improvements near I-49, said the City in the suit. However, without the TIF funds to match the 50/50 grant from MODOT Neosho cannot begin their projects.
The two officials named as defendants in the trial are Newton County Auditor, Charlotte Ward and County Treasurer, Gina Rodriguez. The City says Ward and Rodriguez knew about the TIF Act but failed to perform their fiduciary duty.
“If we owe them the money we will pay them the money,” said Presiding Newton County Commissioner, Bill Reiboldt.
The City is asking the Circuit Court of Newton County to enforce the TIF Act and order the County to deliver the payments.
“I can’t imagine why a county government would keep money to which it has no legitimate claim. That money belongs to the City and is needed for projects such as new traffic safety devices, which will benefit all taxpayers,” said David Streubel, an attorney representing the City of Neosho in the lawsuit.