Wal-Mart opponent presses judge for another chance

By Steve Korris | May 16, 2007

Shop 'n Save meat cutter Diane Tettaton of Collinsville wants a Madison County judge to reconsider his order nixing her challenge to the city's financing of a Wal-Mart-anchored retail center.

At the request of her union representative, Tettaton sued the city last year to block the 53-acre Collinsville Crossing project, scheduled to open June 13. Wal-Mart's workers are not unionized.

Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn ruled April 5 that Tettaton lacked standing to sue.

He wrote, "…she has not identified any potential liability of the city's general fund to pay or replenish any debts or liabilities created by this redevelopment project."

He wrote, "The notes issued in connection with the project are payable solely from revenues derived from the project."

Her attorney, John Myers of Springfield, moved for reconsideration May 3.

He wrote that the Fifth District appellate court endorsed taxpayer standing in two cases that involved tax increment financing.

The Collinsville project, however, does not depend on tax increment financing. It relies on special sales taxes to pay off $19 million in loans.

Myers wrote, "Since taxpayer suits are appropriate for challenges to the validity of TIF districts and TIF bonds, there is no reason to believe they would not be available to challenge TIDF districts' closest cousins, business districts and their accompanying bonds."

He wrote, "Now, we recognize that the taxes at issue in this case are not property taxes as in the case of a TIF district. Rather, they are sales taxes…"

"A tax dollar spent on a private development proposal is a dollar that is not available to the municipality. It does not matter how many special funds through which these tax funds are cycled, or how complex the documentation generated by bond counsel."

He wrote, "The essential truth remains: these are tax funds, they are general tax funds, and the plaintiff has an equitable interest in them."

Collinsville Crossing, located just southwest of the I-70/55 interchange on Illinois Route 157, will also include a Walgreen's, Waffle House and St. Louis Bread Co.

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