SB 215 - This act establishes the procedure to establish a port improvement district.

ESTABLISHMENT OF A PORT IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT - This act establishes the Port Improvement District Act. Under the terms of the act, a port authority may establish a port improvement district within its boundaries for the purpose of funding qualified project costs. The port authority board must hold public hearings on whether to create port improvement district. After the public hearing, the board may approve the petition to create a district by resolution. The port authority board must file a petition in circuit court requesting the creation of a port improvement district. Within 30 days of the circuit court's certification of the petition and establishment of the district, the board must file a copy of the board's resolution approving the petition, the certified petition and the court's judgment certifying and establishing the district with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.

CONTENTS OF PETITION TO CREATE A DISTRICT - The act sets forth what information the petition must contain in order to be certified by the circuit court. For example, the petition must set forth a legal description of the district, the district's name, the maximum rate and duration of any proposed real property or sales tax, and the estimated revenues projected to be generated from such taxes.

PUBLIC HEARING ON PROPOSED PETITION - The act establishes the notice requirements the port authority board must follow prior to submitting the petition to the circuit court. A public hearing must be held on the proposed projects, proposed real property or sales taxes, and the establishment of the district. The act requires notice to be provided by both publication and mailing.

CIRCUIT COURT HEARING PROCEDURE - The act establishes the procedure in which the circuit court must conduct certification hearing. A copy of the petition must be served on all of the respondents (property owners, political subdivisions, etc.). The respondents will have 30 days after receipt of service to file an answer stating agreement with or opposition to the creation of the district. The court will the hear the case without a jury. The parties may appeal a circuit court's order in the same manner provided for other appeals.

NOTICE TO PUBLIC FOR CIRCUIT COURT HEARING - The act also establishes how the circuit clerk must provide notice to the public of the circuit court hearing. The statutory notice shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation once a week for four consecutive weeks.

TERMINATION OF DISTRICT - The act establishes a procedure in which a port improvement district may be terminated. The district may be terminated by a board resolution provided that there are no outstanding obligations secured by district revenues. Public hearings must be held before a district is terminated.

REAL PROPERTY TAX AUTHORIZED - SUBMISSION TO QUALIFIED VOTERS - Under the terms of the act, the port authority may levy a real property tax provided the qualified voters approve the tax by mail-in ballot. The act sets forth the sample ballot language. The act also establishes the procedure in which the real property taxes are collected and distributed.

SALES AND USE TAX AUTHORIZED - SUBMISSION TO QUALIFIED VOTERS - Under the terms of the act, the port authority may levy sales and use taxes within the district in increments of one-eight of one percent, up to a maximum of one percent provided the sales and use tax is approved by the qualified voters in a mail-in ballot election. The act establishes a procedure for collecting and distributing the sales and use tax. Revenues generated from the sales and use tax must be deposited into a special trust fund. Port authorities may repeal by resolution any sales and use tax unless the repeal would impair the port authority’s ability to repay any obligations the port authority has incurred to pay qualified project costs of the district.

ELECTION PROCEDURE FOR REAL PROPERTY AND SALES TAX - The act sets forth an election procedure that must be followed for any proposed real property tax or sales and use tax. After the board has passed a resolution approving the levying of a tax, the board must provide written notice of the resolution, along with the circuit court's certified question regarding the tax, to the election authority. After receiving the written notice of the resolution and the court's certified question, the election authority must specify a date upon which the election shall occur. In addition, the election authority must publish notice of the election in a newspaper of general circulation. The election authority must mail ballots to the qualified voters. Each qualified voter shall have one vote. The act requires the port authority to reimburse the election authority for the costs incurred to conduct an election. A port authority may propose a real property tax and a sales and use tax question to the district's qualified voters in the same election.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR CHALLENGING VALIDITY OF DISTRICT'S CREATION OR VALIDITY OF TAXES - Under the terms of the act, no lawsuit to set aside an established district or a tax shall be brought after the expiration of 90 days from the effective date of the resolution establishing such district in question or the effective date of the resolution levying such real property or sales tax.

ANNUAL REPORTS BY PORT AUTHORITIES - The act requires port authorities that have formed port improvement districts to file reports with the Department of Transportation and the local political subdivision in which the district was formed stating the services provided, the revenues collected and expenditures made by the district during the fiscal year. The port authority must submit an annual report of the district's financial transactions to the state auditor.


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