Valdosta Daily Times

Breaking News:

Local News

April 8, 2012

LOST talks set to begin

County, cities to meet Monday

VALDOSTA — As required by state law, Lowndes County issued a letter to the mayors of all the municipalities in the county, requesting they attend a renegotiation meeting Monday, April 9 to discuss LOST (local option sales tax) distributions.

“This has to be done and approved by the end of the year in order to stay in place, so we have to start the process now,” said Commission Chairman Ashley Paulk.

The one cent sales tax has to be renegotiated every 10 years, in the second year following the decennial census, but does not have to be approved by voters. The benefit of the LOST, according to Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson, is that property taxes are rolled back according to how much LOST tax is collected each year.

“Property taxes are reduced dollar for dollar for the amount of LOST proceeds each of the five cities and Lowndes County receives based on prior year collections. Since we are a regional hub for retail and a great deal of sales taxes are collected from non-residents, this tax is very beneficial in that it significantly lowers property taxes,” said Hanson.

The last time the tax was negotiated was in 2002, and it was a lengthy, very expensive and hightly contentious process as the governments could not reach an agreement. The City of Valdosta disagreed with the amount they would receive versus the county, and asked for approximately $200,000 more per year.

The matter went before an arbitrator who not only ruled in Lowndes County’s favor, but reduced the amount the city would have received if they had accepted the final proposal and not gone to litigation.

In 2002, Hanson stated in a Times’ article that the process was inconsistent in that the arbitrator’s decision was based on total county population, not just the population of the largest city, Valdosta.

According to Chairman Paulk, the population argument is flawed. “There isn’t one citizen in the City of Valdosta that is not also a citizen of Lowndes County. The county is required by law to provide services that cities are not, that benefit everyone in Lowndes County, not just inside the Valdosta city limits.”

Paulk said the county is very hopeful that the renegotiation process goes far smoother this year.

“The last time this was negotiated, it was a huge waste of time and taxpayers’ money that was spent on attorneys and litigation. It was a very acrimonious arbitration, and there’s no reason for that. The commissioners all agree that everybody’s budgets are tight. The county could go for more than we did before, but we won’t. Why take away from the cities when you don’t have to?” Paulk said.

According to Hanson, LOST negotiations are challenging given the difficult economic times. “The pie is one size and the parties must determine how it is sliced. Sales tax collections have decreased over the last three to four years, making the process more difficult. For many governments, sales tax is the largest source of revenue. I feel the parties will attempt to work together and will negotiate in good faith.”

Hanson also stated that there is a new process this year for disagreements, called “baseball arbitration.”

“This means the parties would all submit a best and final offer on the distribution to a judge who would pick one or the other,” Hanson stated. “If the parties do not reach agreement in 60 days, they must submit the issue to non-binding arbitration, mediation, or any other such means of resolving the issue. If this does not result in an agreement within 60 days, the parties may request baseball arbitration.”   

According to County Manager Joe Pritchard, the cost of the litigation, arbitration, mediation, financial consultants and attorneys’ fees in 2002 was nearly $200,000, just for the county.

Paulk said, “All of that only adds expense. It’s not being good stewards of taxpayers’ money. We need to get this done so we can get back to business and work on other important issues.”

Hanson added, “I am sure we all hope to resolve the matter through negotiation with each other.”

The final percentages each entity received in the 2002 process were:

Lowndes County: 58 percent or $12,724,490

Valdosta: 38.63 percent or $8,474,949

Hahira: 1.42 percent or $311,531

Dasher: 0.73 percent or $160,153

Lake Park: 0.48 percent or $105,306

Remerton: 0.74 percent or $162,347

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Valdosta Daily Times e-Edition, or our print edition

Text Only
Local News
  • 140417-Rail_Plan-001.jpg State Transportation seeks public input on rail plan

    The Georgia Department of Transportation held public meetings across the state this week to discuss its 2014 Georgia State Rail Plan.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140417-valdosta_appr#10C8BA.jpg Officials serve lunch to city employees

    The City of Valdosta hosted its annual employee appreciation luncheon Thursday at John W. Saunders Memorial Park.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140417-Wiregrass003.jpg Wiregrass learns through play

    For three years, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College has hosted its Wired Up! event to engage students, faculty and staff in a fun but educational activity day.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • rain.jpg More spills? Valdosta braces for more rain

    In the past four weeks, Valdosta has experienced four major rain events that dumped more than three to four inches of rain on the area per incident.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140117-Scott_SGMAC-001.jpg Moody in running for Afghan pilot mission

    Moody Air Force Base is one of three military bases being considered for a temporary mission to train Afghan pilots next year, Rep. Austin Scott told the South Georgia Military Affairs Council Thursday.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • City: Most overflows stopped

    The City of Valdosta reported Wednesday evening that all manhole overflows resulting from Tuesday’s heavy rains had stopped, with the exception of two.

    April 17, 2014

  • 140416-gov_deal002.jpg Signed into law

    Gov. Nathan Deal went on a signing tour Wednesday across Georgia, flying into the Valdosta Regional Airport to sign three bills into law.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 2 charged in N.C. kidnapping

    Two more people were charged in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father, bringing the number to at least eight people who authorities say were involved in the elaborate plot.

    April 17, 2014

  • VSU opens spring senior art show Saturday

    Several graduating art seniors will present their show this weekend at Valdosta State University.

    April 17, 2014

  • 140415-water003.jpg Sewage problems persist

    Early Tuesday morning, Valdosta became saturated when the area received approximately three inches of rain from 4 a.m. to noon. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 manholes throughout the City of Valdosta have spilled 286,500 gallons of wastewater into local waterways, and this number will continue to rise.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

Top News

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results