MoDOT celebrates sales tax expiration at Monday press conference

“Today is a good day for Northeast Missouri,” said Larry Craig on Monday, July 31, as he reported a half-cent sales tax in Marion, Monroe, Shelby and Macon counties would end on Aug. 1.

This is three and a half years earlier than required, he said, because the counties have paid off the loan that funded the Interstate 72 Corridor Transportation Development District’s 52-mile expansion of U.S. 36 from eight miles west of Hannibal to Macon.

As executive director of the District, Craig reported the sales tax was approved in 2005 by voters in all four counties and established on Jan. 1, 2006, for a period of up to 15 years.

“As of July 27, the District has made its final two installments, totaling over $6.5 million, to complete our financial obligation to the Missouri Transportation Finance Corporation’s loan of $34,299,339.63 in support of this project,” Craig said.

“We always said from the beginning that when we had enough funds to pay back our loan and to meet our obligations, we would repeal the tax and abolish the District,” Craig continued. “It is anticipated that the District will repay the Missouri Transportation Finance Corporation (MTFC) loan before the end of 2017. Thereafter, the District’s Board of Directors will seek voter approval to abolish the District, which the District expects could occur in 2018. … Our goal is to terminate it by June 30, 2018.”

Craig later explained that one reason the loan has been paid off early was because in the beginning enough sales tax revenue was received from the counties that some could be invested, and it was invested in CDs and government securities, “and the interest on that helped the fund grow and allowed us to pay off the loan three and one-half years early.”

Also speaking at the Missouri Department of Transportation press conference Monday was MoDOT Chief Financial Officer Roberta Broeker, who also serves as MTFC’s volunteer executive director. She reported the I-72 Corridor TDD loan was the largest the MTFC has ever made, adding that since 2006, traffic on this stretch of U.S. 36 from eight miles west of Hannibal to Macon is up 46 percent.

MoDOT Northeast District Engineer Kevin James complimented all the people involved in this successful project and said Craig had been great to work with as leader of the TDD.

Tom Boland, who led the planning committee that began working for this highway project in 2004, had an opportunity to thank “all the people who worked on this committee in 2004 and 2005,” adding the “committee met every two weeks for two years to accomplish this.” He said the group was committed to making sure it would not be used for anything else and committed to no extension.

Lyndon Bode, the TDD secretary, noted that “it’s been a good process,” and everyone involved has “done a great job. Larry (Craig) has volunteered all these years.”

Craig reported that the sales tax revenue will continue to come in for the next few months from all four counties, and the final revenue will be divided between the four counties. The counties will then use it for their own transportation needs. He expects this to be done by June 20, 2018.

Reach reporter Bev Darr at bev.darr@courierpost.com.