Spurred on by a recent State Supreme Court decision that could negate the LOST negotiations involving city and county governmental entities statewide if those negotiations are deadlocked, the Douglas County Commission voted unanimously last week to allow Chairman Tom Worthan to execute and submit to the state new LOST distribution certificates for Douglas County and Douglasville.
The vote, accompanied by similar action by the Douglasville City Council, was taken to make sure a previous agreement made last year by the two governmental entities would remain in effect.
At that time, Douglas County received 73.9 percent of such funding while Douglasville received 22.4 percent.
However, that agreement also stipulated that during each successive year of the agreement, the county’s LOST revenue share would steadily decline, falling from 73.9 to 66.3 percent by 2018.
In the same vein, Douglasville’s share of the LOST funds would increase from last year’s 22.4 percent to 28.4 percent in 2018.
According to County Attorney Ken Bernard, the action by these governmental entities followed a Supreme Court decision in the case of Turner County vs. Ashburn.
“The court issued an opinion in this matter, stating that it was unconstitutional for the Georgia state Legislature to pass legislation which stated that any deadlock in LOST negotiation percentages between the county and its cities would be decided in court,” he said.
However, the court’s opinion permitted a time frame in which such deadlocked situations could be worked out between the governmental entitles.
Following the court’s ruling, the Association County Commissioners of Georgia published a list of 40 counties that “had cause for concern” with regard to the distribution of LOST revenue.
However, Douglas County was not on that list.
With the Douglas County Commission voting to allow Worthan to execute and submit the agreed LOST distribution document, Bernard said the commission stated it did not want the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down its agreement with Douglasville.
Bernard said that LOST revenue percentage negotiations occur every 10 years following completion of the U.S. census.
The census numbers determine the percentage of sales tax money each governmental entity receives.
Douglas County voters first approved a LOST referendum in 1978 with the approved 1 percent sales tax at that time taking effect the next year.
Bernard said he read the Supreme Court’s decision Turner County vs. Ashburn and recommended the board of commissioners reauthorize the chairman to sign and resubmit the agreed upon LOST certificates.