Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

October 13, 2013

LOST faces uncertain future following ruling

VALDOSTA — An estimated 21 counties and the cities located within are facing an uncertain future in light of the Georgia Supreme Court’s ruling on Oct. 7, 2013 declaring the unconstitutionality of an amendment to the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) Act in 2010. The amendment allowed Superior Court judges to decide the division of the one cent sales tax proceeds between cities and counties who could not decide on their own.

The recent decision marks the fourth time the constitutionality of all or part of the Local Option Sales Tax Act has come before the state Supreme Court. In 1978, the Court declared the entire act to be unconstitutional, leading to a new version passed by the General Assembly in 1979.

Whether or not the state’s legislators will again step into the legal and political fallout from the Court’s decision in the upcoming 2014 session remains to be seen. In the meantime, the potential ramifications from the ruling are in the hands of the state’s Attorney General’s office. State tax laws are administered by the state’s Revenue Department, a client of the AG’s office as are all state departments.

Warren Calvert, senior assistant attorney general, has been tasked with interpreting how the Court’s ruling will affect the local governments caught in legal limbo. His office will provide advice and guidance to the Department of Revenue, which will in turn enforce the LOST Act accordingly.

“There are a lot of issues and parties involved. It’s a complicated matter,” said Calvert. “This isn’t the first time this office has been involved in the constitutionality of the LOST Act, and we were very involved in 1979 when the entire Act was declared unconstitutional.”

Calvert said there are more questions than answers at this point, including whether or not the Court’s ruling will affect current LOST collections.

“It’s not yet known to what extent the ruling may affect the Act retroactively,” he said, adding that he couldn’t comment on details regarding the issue, including the amount of time it may take for the AG’s office to complete its review.

For Lowndes County and the five municipalities, LOST revenues are an essential component of their operating and general funds. There are no restrictions on how LOST collections are used, while SPLOST collections have to be specifically designated for capital projects.

Under the current division of funds between the entities, Lowndes receives around $12 million per year, Valdosta $8 million, Hahira $300,000, Dasher $160,000, Lake Park $105,000 and Remerton $160,000.

After the governments could not reach an agreement on the future division of the one cent sales tax proceeds, the cities filed a lawsuit against the county in Sept. 2012 under the amendment which allowed for a Superior Court judge to make the decision.

 With that avenue now closed, and with no agreement filed before the Dec. 30, 2012 deadline with the state, the collections that have been ongoing since Jan. 1, 2013 in anticipation of the judge’s ruling may have to stop. If collections cease, according to the original Act, the matter must be presented again to the voters on a referendum, and all governments involved will be without those funds for an extended period.

LOST is tied directly to the collection of property taxes, with each government required to roll back property taxes annually based on prior year collections. No LOST dollars would mean no rollback and property taxes would increase accordingly.

Or the AG’s review may lead to an understanding of the Court’s ruling that would allow for the LOST collections in the affected counties to continue pending arbitration, with any number of scenarios possible between the two extremes.

Text Only
Local News
  • 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

  • vsuopera1dido.jpg Operatic Conclusion

    When the curtain lowers this weekend on Valdosta State University Opera’s performance of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” it will not only mark the end of the music group’s season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘If I Were Mayor’ contest essays

    If I were mayor, I would do all that I possibly can to make the city of Valdosta marvelous, but I cannot do it on my own. Some things in Valdosta I feel it is necessary to focus on would be our literacy rate, unemployment rate, crime history, and our environment.

    April 16, 2014

  • APTOPIX Boston Marath_Stew.jpg Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-valdostaboe001 copy.jpg Valdosta Board of Education reviews finances

    Valdosta City Schools Board of Education celebrated many successes Monday night, discussed budget information and heard an announcement of intent from a hopeful charter school.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • dancing with the stars copy.jpg Dancing with Valdosta Stars raises scholarship money

    Valdosta State University Music and Theatre & Dance’s Third Annual Dancing with the Stars of Valdosta presented a fine dance show this past weekend.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

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