State auditor addresses TDD concerns

A recent report released by Missouri's state auditor said there are major concerns over the state's transportation development districts, or TDDs.

Auditor Susan Montee said while TDD operations have improved, there are still problems.

There are 139 TDDs in Missouri. Columbia has 11 TDDs, including Macy's strip mall on Stadium Boulevard near the Columbia mall. In Jefferson City, Kohls and the new east end Walmart in are two of three. The Kansas City and St. Louis area have 70 percent of the TDD's in Missouri.

In a transportation development district, a property owner, who wants to make transportation improvements, like paving a road or putting in a stoplight, can form a TDD and borrow money for the upgrades.

The business then charges an extra sales tax to reimburse itself for those improvements.

But that process has some raised some questions.

"The first report that we put out when I took office, we had all kinds of issues with it," Montee said. "From the overall tax without any kind of representation to the fact that nobody even knew what was going on. So a lot of things have gotten better."

Legislation was passed last year that addresses previous concerns with TDDs.

A TDD petition, now, must outline the construction budget and cost projections. Organizers must also hold at least one public hearing to let people a know a TDD is on the way.

But Montee still has concerns.

"There's still some issues with who actually should have oversight over these TDDs," Montee said. "And if its hooked up to a state road, then MoDOT should have some say. If its hooked up to a city or county road, then the city or county should have some oversight. And those are things that are still very murky and unclear."

Columbia Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala echoes Montee. He said while a TDD has helped Columbia fix traffic congestion problems, the TDD process lacks accountability.

"I do think there needs to be some sort of formal cooperative arrangement by which the city has some input into some of the activities of the TDD," Skala said. "At the moment, that's not the case."