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Cities, county go into negotiations over local option sales tax
by Angela Spencer
aspencer@neighbornewspapers.com
July 11, 2012 01:23 PM | 1382 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Fulton County and all its cities have started negotiations on the distribution of local option sales taxes.

In a presentation to Johns Creek City Council Monday, Georgia Municipal Association Deputy Director Paul Radford said the local option sales tax is a joint city and county tax that serves a dual purpose to provide property tax relieve and fund government services.

In these negotiations, the cities and county will decide what percent of the tax each entity will receive.

“There is no set formula for local option sales tax,” Radford said. “The General Assembly does not say that the county should get this and the city should get this. The law just specifically says every 10 years at a minimum when there’s a new census, that cities and counties shall negotiate a new law certificate and file that with the Department of Revenue.”

There are eight criteria that need to be considered during the negotiations, but the law does not define what weight any of the criteria should carry. Those criteria are population, general fund expenses, gross property tax digest, commercial digest, industrial digest, employment data, daytime population and transportation data.

Fulton County sent a letter to the cities June 28 to begin the negotiations. From that date, they have 60 days to reach an agreement on the tax distribution. If no agreement is reached, the cities and county must go to mandated mediation for another 60 days, and if an agreement is still unattained the decision goes to baseball arbitration where an out-of-county judge makes the decision.

“Getting to baseball arbitration should not be your goal,” Radford said. “It is a provision there to prevent any county from stalemating.”

Radford said the Georgia Municipal Association urges cities to work together in these negotiations.

By law, any new 10-year distribution certificate must be filed with the Department of Revenue by Dec. 30.
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