BRANSON, Mo., March 9, 2014 – In a September column the Ole Seagull suggested that, “As a condition precedent to the voters reauthorizing the TCED’s 1% Marketing Tax in April, one of two conditions should be met in order to prevent 50% of the taxes paid at ‘Branson Landing’ and ‘Branson Hills’ from being used to pay the city of Branson’s TIF debt instead of for marketing.” The alternative conditions were either the production of a Missouri Supreme Court Case saying that a new tax authorized by the voters after a TIF has already been put into effect automatically becomes part of the preexisting TIF or, alternatively, the TCED pledging to cease payment of any portion of the TCED taxes collected to the city of Branson for Branson’s TIFs until judicially directed otherwise.
As of this date the TCED has done neither. “Now hold on Seagull, isn’t it true that some of the board members of the TCED are saying that its attorney sent you a letter citing a Missouri Supreme Court case meeting the first condition. “That’s what some are saying, but that doesn’t make it so.”
What the Ole Seagull actually received was a letter from “the attorney for the Branson Lakes Area Tourism Community Enhancement District,” citing the 1995 Missouri Supreme Court case COUNTY OF JEFFERSON v. QUIKTRIP CORPORATION (Jefferson) and stating “The court “specifically” [Parens added.] found that because Section 99.843.3 R.S.Mo. does not specifically exclude taxes approved “after” [Parens added.] the passage of a TIF Plan, they are to be included in the taxes that can be captured.” “Well then Seagull, the attorney says it does so that takes care of it. Right?”
“Sure it does, just like it did when an attorney said that the City of Branson could control the term “Branson;” advised the city that its first Tourism Tax was legal until the Missouri Supreme Court threw it out, that Branson is in a better position to defend in the event of a default on the Airport Agreement by amending the original agreement etc. Be it the way the Missouri Revised Statutes are cited, who the name “Branson” belongs to, an opinion as to what a case says or other matters, just because an attorney, or an Ole Seagull, says it is so doesn’t make it so.
The Jefferson case, is to an Ole Seagull, a case of “first impression” as to taxes put into effect “before” a TIF is passed. It was brought to adjudicate whether or not the City of Herculaneum could take money from county taxes that voters had approved for a specific purpose “before” the City of Herculaneum passed its TIF. In saying they could, the court said, “The legislature was undoubtedly aware that the authority for the collection of those taxes existed. Had the legislature wished to create an exclusion or exception for those two forms of tax, it could have done so. The legislature is presumed to have had knowledge of the county sales tax statutes when it enacted § 99.845.”
It is the case that settled the situation regarding TIF payments on taxes passed “before” a TIF is enacted by a local entity. It supports the TCED taking no action regarding the TIF at Indian Point with the Silver Dollar City By Pass that results in the loss of 50 % of one of the major sources of the taxes revenues for the marketing of Branson. The TCED Tax was passed “before” the Indian Point TIF was enacted. “Wow Seagull, bet the folks on Indian Point are going to vote for the TCED Tax extension with it paying for 50% of their By Pass.” “Who knows, but you wouldn’t be able to keep an Ole Seagull away from the polls and voting ‘Yes’ if he lived on Indian Point.”
The word “after” appears only once in the Jefferson opinion and relates to a “date” not the application of the TIF Statues. Nowhere can an Ole Seagull find now, or did he find before he asked the question, a basis for saying that Jefferson “specifically found that because Section 99.843.3 R.S.Mo. does not specifically exclude taxes approved “after” [Quote marks added.] the passage of a TIF Plan, they are to be included in the taxes that can be captured.” In an Ole Seagulls opinion it would be the “after” case of “first impression” for voter approved taxes passed “after” a TIF was approved.
Meanwhile, even while the TCED is asking voters to “Vote Yes” on an extension of the tax, millions of dollars continue to be used to pay Branson TIFs rather than being devoted to the marketing that is so vital to our community. “But Seagull, if you believe that’s the case why are you voting ‘Yes’ for the tax extension?” “Because, as beneficial as those additional TIF funds would be for the marketing of Branson, it would be, in an Ole Seagull’s opinion, much worse if Branson had no marketing funding source.”