Monett's official response to Barry County E-911's public statement
Representatives from the City of Monett attended the public informational meeting conducted by the Barry County Emergency Services Board on May 24. The city appreciates the 911 Board's willingness to begin a public dialogue relating to the financial issues confronting the board. The Board's budget problems were set in motion before the litigation began and were only made worse by their legal expenses resulting from the lawsuit and the subsequent judgment in favor of the City of Monett. In its statement, the 911 Board indicates that it may file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy if the court's decision isn't overturned. If this occurs, it will not affect 911 service within the city limits of Monett.
From the City of Monett's perspective, the dispute with Barry County 911 and Lawrence and Barry counties has never been about anyone taking money from anyone else, and there is misunderstanding about whose money is actually at issue. No one wins by suggesting otherwise, and the City of Monett remains hopeful that a solution can be found short of continued litigation.
Tax increment financing (TIF) districts were created within the City of Monett to eliminate blight, to encourage development and to increase the tax base. The school district, counties and other taxing entities in Monett all had representation on the TIF Commission. Studies were conducted, plans to improve the roads and highways were approved, and bonds were issued to pay for these public improvements. No taxing entity received less than they received prior to the establishment of the TIF, and the City of Monett and counties received additional sales tax revenue that came from the new business expansion within the TIF.
Only a portion of these new sales taxes generated within the TIF district are used to repay the bonds. The City of Monett must allocate a share, and the counties and Barry County 911 must allocate a share. The allocation of tax revenue within a TIF district is determined by state law, not by the city.
Monett's use of tax increment financing to make improvements to the transportation system within the city and counties has been a success by any measure.
The litigation resulted when the counties stopped making the allocations they had been making for years, and when Barry County 911 indicated it would not allocate its portion of sales tax revenue to the TIF districts. Both the city and then the counties and Barry County 911 sued each other (the counties and the 911 Board through what is called a counter-claim).
The City of Monett understood that it had a legal obligation to collect taxes that state law required it to collect. The trial court has agreed. The 911 Board indicated that they will file an appeal, which will require all of the parties to incur further legal costs. The funds that are owed to the TIF from the counties and Barry County 911 remain in escrow and unavailable to the City of Monett to pay its bond obligations. It is to everyone's benefit that this issue be resolved as quickly as possible without further delay or expense.