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Two Columbia TDDs included in statewide audit

Saturday, January 24, 2009 | 7:32 p.m. CST; updated 5:12 p.m. CDT, Monday, April 27, 2009

COLUMBIA — Two Columbia transportation development districts were reviewed Tuesday by the Missouri State Auditor's Office as part of its routine statewide audit report on the special sales tax districts, an attorney representing the districts said.

A staff member of the auditor's office reviewed the records of two TDDs in Columbia — Broadway-Fairview and Grindstone Plaza — at the law offices of Van Matre, Harrison, Volkert and Hollis, said Erick Creach, an attorney with the firm who represents the districts.

TDDs in Columbia

Within Columbia, 13 transportation development districts have been established in state court. A partial map of the districts within Columbia can be found on page 59 of the city's CATSO 2030 transportation plan.

Blue Ridge Town Centre

Broadway-Fairview

Centerstate

Columbia Mall

Conley Road

Crosscreek*

Gans Road/U.S. 63

Grindstone Plaza

Lake of the Woods

Northwoods

Rock Bridge Center*

Stadium Corridor

Shoppes at Stadium

*Not included on 2030 transportation plan map



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Joe Martin, chief of staff for the state auditor's office, confirmed that it is conducting fieldwork on an audit of TDDs statewide. Martin said he could not identify specific districts being reviewed because the audit is ongoing.

Martin said the final report probably wouldn't be released until late summer.

TDDs are special sales tax districts that can be set up by local transportation authorities, registered voters or the owners of real property within a proposed district through a state law that allows up to a 1 percent sales tax to be levied on businesses within them. The tax revenue is then to be used to pay for transportation projects within the district.

Missouri law requires the state auditor's office to audit each TDD at least every third year at the expense of the district. Creach said Friday that the auditor's visit was part of the routine audit.

The districts in question have been annually audited by Moore, Horton and Carlson, P.C. of Sedalia each year of their existence, but the state auditor's inquiry looks at areas not explicitly assessed by the district's auditing firm, such as bidding procedures and contractor-submitted change orders, Creach said.

Creach also said the staff from the auditor's office has indicated that the third-party audits, which found the districts to be in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles, were conducted appropriately.

The reports usually contain general findings about districts statewide, including recommendations for safeguards as well as supplemental reports on individual TDDs selected for review that year.

In a statewide audit report released in October 2008, the state auditor's office found the potential for problems with transparency in bidding practices and proper posting of open meetings in some districts across the state.

None of the nine TDDs reviewed in the October audit were in Columbia.

When a report is completed, the auditor's office usually identifies any concerns it has with the districts and then allows them to answer the findings.

The city of Columbia collects sales tax for eight TDDs. An additional five TDDs have been established within the city limits through the state courts, according to court documents and maps from the city's Planning and Development Department.

Shoppers pay an extra half-cent sales tax at shops within Columbia's TDDs, bringing the total sales tax rate within the districts to 8.05 percent on general sales and 5.05 percent on qualified food sales.

Missouri law allows the districts to exist for up to 50 years and to continue to collect sales tax as long as the district has outstanding bills.

The Grindstone Plaza TDD in southeast Columbia was established on Jan. 31, 2005, and the Broadway-Fairview TDD in northwest Columbia on May 10, 2005. Both districts include Walmart Supercenters.


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