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Local governments hire mediator for LOST negotiations
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Government leaders in Hall County will hire a mediator to help them come to terms on how to share Local Option Sales Tax revenues.

Leaders from neither the county’s municipalities nor the county government had changed their positions on the tax-sharing plan in a meeting Tuesday.

But they did agree to spend $250 an hour to hire Denny Galis as a mediator.

LOST revenue is meant to help offset local governments’ reliance on property taxes to fund day-to-day operations. How it is distributed is determined every 10 years following a federal count of the population.

The first mediated negotiation for leaders in Hall County is set for Oct. 3.

Currently, there is a difference of about 17 percentage points between the county government and the municipal leaders’ stances on how the tax should be shared. The governments had 60 days to come to an agreement on their own.

Once the mediation process begins, they have another 60 days to come to an agreement that way.

The governments will share the cost of mediation based on the final division of the tax.

So far, neither group has moved on its position.

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 — all of which use the tax as the main source of operating revenue — receive from the tax.

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

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 by the cities, on the other hand, seeks to cut only 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 the 75.49 percent it receives today.

If no agreement is reached in the 60-day mediation period, then the governments have 30 days to file for “baseball arbitration,” allowing a judge to decide the tax distribution.

 

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