Voters to likely be asked to dissolve transportation development district in April

The four northeast Missouri counties that make up the U.S. Highway 36-Interstate 72 Corridor Transportation Development District (TDD) will likely receive a sizable check when the TDD dissolves in 2018.

According to a closeout audit conducted by the state, the TDD has enough funds to pay remaining costs associated with the close out of the district. In fact, there could be cash remaining, according to Larry Craig, executive director of the Highway 36 TDD.

“After we've paid our bills the (TDD) board has already approved whatever funds are left over will be divided into quarters and paid out to the commissions of the four-county district,” he reported during the Dec.18 meeting of the Marion County Commission at the courthouse in Palmyra.

How much money can the commissions of Macon, Marion, Monroe and Shelby counties expect to see?

“It's a little hard to tell right now,” said Craig. “Conservatively I can estimate each county will receive around $150,000, maybe more.”

That money will arrive with no strings attached regarding how it is used.

“How the commissions handle those funds is up to them,” said Craig. “You guys (commissioners) can decide how to use it. I know you've got bridges and roads to take care of. That's a decision you all will make.”

At least one commission may not keep the funds it receives on the county level.

“I think Monroe County has already talked about it a little bit and based on whatever funds they receive they're going to divide it up per capita by each community (in the county),” said Craig.

The checks could show up by mid year. Craig is hopeful that the TDD's bank account will be closed out by the end of June.

Between now and then a few steps must occur, one of which will involve voters in the TDD's four-county area.

“Statutes require us to ask the voters for permission to abolish ourselves,” said Craig. “We've terminated the tax but we just can't abolish ourselves without voter approval. It will be a simple 'yes' or 'no' question.”

TDD officials are hustling to meet the January deadline for items to appear on the ballot this spring.

“If we don't get it on the April ballot it's just going to drag this process out into another fiscal year and we don't want to do that,” said Craig.

The taxing district was established in 2005 to fund construction of two additional lanes on U.S. 36 over a 52-mile area, from just east of Hannibal to Macon. A $34 million loan agreement with the state was created to pay for the highway expansion. Voters in the four-county district approved a 1/2 cent sales tax on retail sales within the TDD to repay the loan.

The project was completed in 2010. The final loan payment was made in July 2017, 3 ½ years early. The sales tax was allowed to expire at the end of July.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com