COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missouri's Western District Court of Appeals on Tuesday overturned a Boone County judge's decision to throw out a case challenging the formation of a Columbia taxing district.
The three-judge panel sent the case challenging the election that created the Business Loop Community Improvement District back to Boone County, overturning Judge Jodie Asel's dismissal in the process.
Former Business Loop Community Improvement District resident Jen Henderson filed a lawsuit in January 2016 after a December 2015 election raised the sales tax in the area by a half-cent to pay for public improvements. She lost that case the same year.
Henderson claimed the CID committed constitutional violations during the election, but Asel dismissed the case, saying the court lacked legal authority to rule because state election laws didn't cover the district.
Henderson was initially unable to appeal because of the way Asel issued her decision. The Missouri Supreme Court later ordered Asel to issue a final judgment that could be appealed.
The appeals court heard the case at the Boone County Courthouse on Nov. 13.
Business Loop CID director Carrie Gartner noted in a written statement that the decision was procedural and not about whether the election was conducted lawfully.
"We cannot comment on any pending litigation but we've worked with the community to develop both a corridor improvement plan and an economic development plan for the Business Loop and we're working hard to strengthen an area of Columbia that’s been neglected for decades," Gartner wrote.
James Layton is one of the attornies for Henderson. He said the ruling could serve as an example in future cases.
"Special improvement districts, whether they're CIDs or others, do not have the ability to conduct elections however they may wish to and then avoid review by a court afterward," he said.
He said a judge will now address Henderson's concerns about how the election was conducted.
"Finally we're at a point where a court will hear the complaints that Miss Henderson had about the way the election was conducted," Layton said.