The developer of Eagles' Landing remains skeptical of the city of Lake Ozark's recent move to resolve a dispute over a Tax Increment Financing agreement.
Lake Ozark officials announced in a Dec. 29 news release that two payments totaling $222,000 had been made to RIS, Inc., as part of the developer's open-meeting announcement several weeks ago that RIS had been shorted TIF payments. Subsequently, the city paid $84,000 in TIF payments for the fourth quarter of 2017, and another $138,000 that had been held in escrow.
City officials said a timely transfer of funds had not been made due to an oversight that occurred during a recent transition between the city's former treasurer and the current treasurer. The city notified RIS and made the appropriate transfer of TIF funds, according to the news release.
However, a request by RIS for certain documentation has been denied by the city which said releasing that information is prohibited by state law and could result in a felony criminal sanction against the city or the individual releasing the documents. According to the news release, the city provided the annual TIF reports submitted to the Department of Revenue to RIS as well as all other documentation requested that could be legally disseminated.
"The city's position on this issue is not negotiable as it will not violate the laws of  Missouri to satisfy RIS's demands," the news releasee said.
According to Andy Prewitt, RIS spokesman, the documentation is needed to assess just where the TIF stands and if payments to lenders are being made properly and in accordance with the agreement between RIS and Lake Ozark. Documents necessary to calculate a variety of TIF financial obligations requested by RIS in June and which were the subject of a Missouri Sunshine Law request in early December, including the annual TIF reports, have not been provided, according to RIS officials.
RIS will be able to access important sales-tax data not released by the city through contractual agreements with retailers. This will provide RIS accountants a baseline for comparison of city figures, RIS officials said this week.
RIS acknowledges receipt of the requested payments that were "seriously in arrears to the lending agent for Eagles' landing," and noted that by making those payments the city "has admitted that concerns raised by RIS over the last six months were appropriate."
Prewitt leveled his allegations during the Public Comment portion of a regular board meeting weeks ago because he says he was denied placement on the regular board agenda. His preference, he said, was to discuss the issues in closed session.
Subsequently, RIS threatened suit if the funds were not disbursed and the documentation was not provided.
Gary Prewitt, RIS principal, still has questions about how Lake Ozark is handling the Eagles Landing TIF and cooperative agreement funds. Eagles Landing is the city’s largest single taxpayer and generates significant sales tax revenue for the city, he noted.
“The city failed to make timely payments on the TIF and cooperative agreement loans for half of 2017. That is something more than a change of bookkeepers. This is the biggest thing Lake Ozark is doing financially and one would think they would pay some attention,” Prewitt said. “They have been keeping documentation from us for six months while providing a string of excuses that amount to the dog ate their homework.”
“It is unfortunate that RIS had to threaten litigation to get public documents that should have been readily available to city staff and to have payments made that the city acknowledged were owed,” Prewitt said. “We hope for a full TIF and cooperative agreement accounting soon and more transparency from the city going forward.”