On July 6, 2011, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed House Bill 506 into law. Among its provisions, House Bill 506 revised the definitions contained in the Missouri Transportation Development District Act, specifically the definition of “qualified electors”, “qualified voters” and “electors”.
Seeing the need for a revision in order to dispel some uncertainty by local authorities who might otherwise consider forming Transportation Development Districts (“TDDs”) to assist with transportation-related expenses, Husch Blackwell attorneys worked with Missouri State Legislators to add additional language to proposed House Bill 506 late in the 2011 legislative session.
The amendment to the TDD Act contained in House Bill 506 was an attempt to remedy the lack of a definition of “qualified voters” applicable to a TDD formed under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 238.207.5 (which provision allows for a TDD to be formed by two or more local transportation authorities (each, an “LTA”), in which no persons who are registered to vote reside within the proposed or established TDD boundaries. A definition of “qualified voters” in such circumstance is necessary given the election requirements under the Act to form a TDD proposed under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 238.207.5.
In Missouri, the majority of TDDs are formed by the unanimous consent of all property owners within the proposed TDD boundaries under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 238.207.1. However, a TDD can be created by one or more local transportation authorities. The Act requires a vote to form a TDD under petition by LTAs, and in some instances, to impose taxes or assessments within the TDD. The persons entitled to vote on such matters are referred to as “qualified voters.” “Qualified voters” are defined under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 238.202.2(2) of the Act; the definition has two parts. The first part of the definition applies only to TDDs formed by either one LTA or by two or more LTAs. Prior to House Bill 506, the second part of the definition only applied to TDDs formed by county residents or the unanimous consent of property owners within the proposed TDD boundaries; it did not apply to TDDs created by LTAs. A gap was therefore created by the “qualified voters” definition under the following circumstances:
- TDD creation sought by one or more LTAs under Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 238.207.2 or 238.207.5, or TDD sales tax is proposed in a TDD that has been formed under § 238.207.2; and
- No persons residing within the proposed or established district boundaries who are registered to vote under Chapter 115 of the Missouri Revised Statutes.
Under these circumstances, the first part of the qualified voters definition (generally applicable to LTA-formed TDDs) does not apply because there would be no persons who are residing in the TDD boundaries that are registered to vote (this would typically occur when the proposed TDD boundaries contain only commercially zoned property or vacant land). The second part of the definition of “qualified voters” only applied to TDDs formed under non-LTA created TDDs. Therefore, under the above circumstances, there was no applicable definition for “qualified voters”, leaving LTAs, developers, and others to speculate on who the proper voters should be and trying to convince the local circuit court, counsel, and others of that interpretation.
House Bill 506 attempted to correct the qualified voters definition for TDDs created under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 238.207.5. By its language, House Bill 506 added a reference to TDDs formed under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 238.207.5 to the second part of the definition. Under the circumstances described above, the qualified electors of a TDD formed under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 238.207.5 with no registered voters residing within the TDD boundaries are the owners of the real property within the TDD boundaries.
Unfortunately, given the late introduction of the TDD Act Amendment to House Bill 506 and the request by the sponsoring legislators to keep the revisions as narrow as possible, House Bill 506 did not address the issue for TDDs formed by petition of one LTA. It remains to be seen if this cause will be taken up during the next legislative session, as seems appropriate.