Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Challenge Mu Sues over Research Park Taxation

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Challenge Mu Sues over Research Park Taxation

Article excerpt

A lawsuit challenging the taxation of properties at the Missouri Research Park has been filed against St. Charles County by the curators of the University of Missouri and the Zoltek Corp.

The university owns the 740-acre park south of U.S. Highway 40-61 near Weldon Spring. The university claims that the property is exempt from taxation.

The law establishing the research park authorizes the university to establish and develop "research, development and office park projects" to advance the university's educational commitment.

Zoltek is one of at least 11 businesses that lease property in the research park. It also is one of three businesses in the park that have been assessed for tax purposes by the office of county Assessor Gene Zimmerman. The taxes being sought on those three properties would amount to $101,198, the county said.

Named as defendants in the suit are Zimmerman, County Collector Barbara J. Walker and County Executive Eugene C. Schwendemann.

The suit, filed June 17 in St. Charles County Circuit Court, asks for a declaratory judgment regarding "the construction and interpretation" of the Missouri Constitution and of state laws that exempt properties owned by the state from taxation.

Schwendemann called the university's action "kind of a friendly suit - they are just disagreeing with us." He said County Counselor Stephen A. Martin had yet to respond to the suit.

The suit comes as no surprise to Zimmerman and members of his staff. The county assessor says that some of the activities at the research park are more like competitive businesses and recreation than research and development. As such, Zimmerman said, they should be taxed like any other business.

The suit cites the Missouri Constitution that exempts from taxation "lands and other property belonging to the state."

In 1986, the Legislature passed a law allowing the creation of research parks. …

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