Bill provides scrutiny of local taxing districts


TDDs, CIDs and TIFs add up to more than an acronym overload; they represent local taxing districts that receive and disperse tax revenue.

Once established, these taxing entities exist and operate with little public scrutiny.

A bill approved by the Legislation and signed this week by Gov. Jay Nixon is designed to increase public transparency and accountability of Transportation Development Districts (TDDs) and Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) throughout the state.

Separate legislation pertaining to Tax Increment Financing (TIFs) also was signed by Nixon, but its provisions are limited to the St. Louis area.

A TDD is an independent political subdivision organized to levy taxes or assessments to pay for the construction of roads, parking lots and other transportation-related improvements within the district. Each TDD is governed by a board of directors. Cole County has three TDDs: East Wal-Mart at U.S. 50/63; Stoneridge Village, including Kohl’s, off Missouri Boulevard; and the Commons of Hazel Hills at Missouri 179.

A CID, as defined by the Missouri Department of Economic Development, may be either a political subdivision or non-profit corporation organized to finance a wide range of public-use facilities. A CID petition must include, among other requirements, the maximum rates of property taxes or special assessments to be imposed. Cole County has two CIDs — one in Old Munichburg on the south side and another at Capital Mall.

The law signed by Nixon clarifies the process for TDDs to file annual financial statements with the state auditor’s office , as well as the penalty process for non-compliance.

The law also authorizes the state auditor to audit CIDs without a petition from district residents. Under the auditor’s expanded authority, all CIDs are subject to audits.

In signing the legislation, the governor said: “When residents vote to improve their community through local taxing districts, they expect these districts to be held accountable and follow the law. This legislation will provide taxpayers additional protection by strengthening the state auditor’s ability to root out wrongdoing and mismanagement.”

Exactly.

Although these taxing entities may be authorized by elected governing bodies, their operations are largely overseen by unelected representatives of property owners within the district.

We welcome the enhanced scrutiny and accountability an elected statewide official, Missouri’s auditor, will provide.

Sedalia Democrat
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