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Hall, cities start LOST talks with big difference in opinion

Municipalities must agree on how to split sales tax collections

POSTED: August 13, 2012 2:01 p.m.

There’s a difference of about 17 percentage points in the amount of sales tax county officials think they’re entitled to and the amount leaders of Hall’s cities think the county should have.

County and city officials moved forward Monday with a negotiation on how to share the revenue from the Local Option Sales Tax.

The tax is meant to cut down on local government’s reliance on property tax revenue for daily operation.

The negotiation over its revenues occurs every 10 years following a national count of the population.

Local officials won’t meet publicly to discuss their proposals again until Aug. 28.

They have until Sept. 21 to come to an agreement on their own.

If no agreement is reached by that deadline, state law requires the governments to resolve the matter through mediation.

If no agreement can be reached there within 60 days, the matter will be decided in court.

"It’s like a family, and some of the most contentious arguments happen within families, but then they always come back together and people of goodwill can come to an agreement," Doug Eaves, the consultant representing the county government’s interests, said.

Eaves, in his pitch for the county on Monday, focused on services provided by the county that cities enjoy, including use of the county jail and the emergency dispatch center.

A representative for the cities — former Hall assistant administrator Phil Sutton — focused instead on the revenue that central business districts, largely located in cities, contribute to LOST.

The county’s proposal included keeping about 75 percent of the revenue. The proposal increases the county’s share by about 0.2 percent.

It also proposed cutting Gainesville’s current share of the tax by nearly 2.5 percent, down to 17.39.

The county proposal also cuts the shares Lula, Gillsville and Clermont receive from the tax — all of which use the tax as the main source of operating revenue.

Of Hall’s seven municipalities that share in the tax revenue, Gainesville receives, by far, the largest share.

The county’s proposal seeks to increase shares for Buford, Braselton, Flowery Branch and Oakwood, with Buford and Flowery Branch seeing the largest growth.

The proposal offered up by the cities on the other hand, only seeks to cut the county share, increasing the municipalities’ stake by anywhere from 0.08 percentage points for Gillsville to 7.18 points for Gainesville.

Under the cities’ recommended sharing plan, the county government would receive 58.17 percent of the tax, compared with 75.49 percent it receives today.


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