KOMU Investigates TDD Tax

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COLUMBIA - Just about a month into her term, new city councilwoman Helen Anthony said she found a blemish on Columbia's canvas.

"My worry is that when you have something that's controlled by the state, that concerns project within the city of Columbia, you have an inability for public participation," Anthony said.

Anthony's concern is over who's overseeing the use of TDD funds. It's a tax you've probably paid and may not know about. It's an added sales tax of up to one percent within certain groups of businesses, which is supposed to be used to improve the area with traffic projects.

"There is a concern here among the community that some of the monies might be used for site improvements that should be the developer's responsibility, you just want to make sure from a transparency standpoint that the money is being used for what's supposed to be," Anthony said.

But some in Missouri's state house say they've already made adjustments.

"We made some adjustments in 2009, according to the auditors request," Bill Stouffer, State Senator, said.

He's referring to new requirements that added greater transparency to the TDD's. The auditor's office requested the changes after it found TDD's 'Failed to Document' and 'Overspent.' One TDD didn't prepare a budget at all.

"TDD's are kind of like people, and they are only as good as the people who run them," Craig Van Matre, an attorney representing some developers who used the funds, said. "Can you make things better? Of course you can always make things better. Is more government supervision of all TDD's required? Well is all government supervision of all activities better or worse for us? That's sort of a never-ending conclusion."

Van Matre thinks the state has good reason to be in control for traffic reasons. But, he said the local public deserves some say too.

"I think when government gets involved with aesthetics, is when you get major arguments about whether that's a proper function," Van Martre said.

Even if Anthony wants change, she said she has no power to do so.