PALMYRA, Mo. -- Marion County on Monday received a $199,000 check as its share of excess sales taxes collected by the U.S. Highway 36-Interstate 72 Corridor Transportation Development District, which is being abolished.
The half-cent sale tax was approved by voters in April 2005 and was expected to remain in effect for 15 years to finance the $34.3 million local share of the cost to expand 52 miles of U.S. 36 to a four-lane standards through Marion, Monroe, Shelby and Macon counties.
The debt was paid off more than three years early, so the district's board voted in August 2017 to repeal the tax. Then in April 2018, voters formally authorized the district to be abolished.
Some tax dollars kept trickling in, however, so the district's governing board decided to distribute nearly all the remaining funds equally among the four counties.
Larry Craig, the district's executive director, said two $199,000 checks were given to representatives from Monroe and Shelby counties during a Transportation Development District committee meeting Thursday, and a similar check was mailed to officials in Macon County. Then on Monday, Craig hand-delivered a check to Marion County officials during the Marion County Commission's weekly meeting.
All four counties have indicated they plan to use the money for transportation-related purposes.
Marion County Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode, who has served on the district's governing board ever since its formation, said Marion County plans to use its allocation for various transportation projects.
"The one that stands out right now is the Taylor bridge project," Bode said, referring to the former state highway bridge across the North Fabius River near Taylor. The 201-foot-long bridge on County Road 313 was closed Nov. 8 for safety reasons, and the commission plans to expedite its replacement, which is expected to cost more than $1 million.
Bode said county officials are planning to apply for funding through a new federal transportation grant program -- Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development. However, if a grant doesn't pan out, Bode said the county will have to dip into its cash reserves to build the bridge, so the district payment would come in handy.
Bode said the county is facing a July 19 deadline to apply for the federal grant.
"We're working in that direction," he said.
Craig said the $199,000 payments to the four counties was intended to deplete nearly all of the funds from the district's bank account. He said the district board will hold a final meeting June 14 in Shelbina "to settle up all other bills and invoices that we have." Then the last of the remaining funds will be distributed to the four counties in a final series of checks -- "hopefully taking our bank account to zero," Craig said.
The district board will then pass a resolution to officially abolish the district at the end of June.