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CID voter argues why court should consider lawsuit

Calling the community improvement district’s argument “repugnant,” a voter challenging the December sales tax election argued why the Boone County Circuit Court should hear the lawsuit.

Attorney Richard Reuben filed a response late Friday to the Business Loop 70 CID’s motion to throw out voter Jennifer Henderson’s lawsuit against the election to impose a half-cent sales tax in the area beginning this April. The CID, represented by Caleb Colbert, said the state’s CID Act does not provide a statutory process to challenge a sales tax election.

Seven of the fifteen eligible voters in the Business Loop 70 CID’s boundaries voted on the issue, the sales tax passing by a 4-3 vote. Henderson told ABC 17 News at the close of the election on December 10 that she had concerns over the handling of the election. Voters were required to sign their names at the bottom of the ballot, turn them in at the CID office at the Parkade Center where paid county election judges tallied the votes.

In his reply to the CID’s motion, Reuben called the argument “incomprehensible when viewed in the context of the election contest at issue.” Reuben called the election “highly irregular,” and that it violated state law for lacking a secret ballot, secured ballot box, timely notice and neutral election judges. Accepting a motion to throw the suit out would deny a guarantee of “open courts” in Missouri, as laid out in Article I, Reuben argued, and that the court had proper authority to consider the case.

“The [CID’s] argument is legally wrong and repugnant to ancient and fundamental public policies requiring free, fair, and open elections,” the lawsuit reads. “No public entity, including the Business Loop CID, is above the law.”

Colbert’s motion for dismissal cites the state’s CID Act’s rules for running elections.

“Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 115 [the state’s election law], an election for a district sales and use tax under this section shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions of this section.”

CID executive director Carrie Gartner expects the sales tax to bring in around $200,000 a year for improvement projects in the area in north Columbia. The CID already collects a property tax of 47 cents for every $100 of assessed value. Gartner said she expects to collect $50,000 a year from it.

Boone County Judge Jodie Asel will hear the case, after two motions to change the judges assigned to it. Judge Asel is expected to take up the motion to dismiss the suit on March 7.

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