Confusion Over CIDs in Springfield
After a debate about CIDs in the comments of my post about tax stacking, I came across an article in the Springfield News-Leader about the city council’s dilemma regarding Community Improvement Districts, or CIDs. The Springfield city council recently permitted a CID because the councilmembers did not know whether they legally had the authority to reject it:
However, the state statute that created CIDs includes language that appears to give city governments the legal muscle to turn down such proposals, reading: “the governing body of the municipality may adopt an ordinance approving the petition …”
City attorney Dan Wichmer said the council cannot reject a CID based purely on a philosophical opposition to raising taxes and, in fact, has limited power — the power only to review whether the sales tax petition meets state guidelines.
The petition did meet the guidelines that more than 50 percent of the property holders and owners of more than 50 percent of the total property must sign the petition. The Springfield City Council was hesitant to vote it down after a lawsuit last year in Blue Springs when its council rejected a CID. The Springfield council passed the Commercial Street CID hoping to avoid a lawsuit.
There should be no such confusion about whether a CID can be rejected by a city council. Councils should be able to vote down higher taxes in their areas without fear of lawsuit. One hopes that clarification, whether legal or otherwise, might prevent this sort of confusion from happening in another town.