Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

April 11, 2012

Don’t lose it over LOST

VALDOSTA — The Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) is a one cent sales tax that offsets property taxes, which are rolled back annually to reflect the collection amount.

The county is required by law to call the meeting every 10 years to negotiate with each city within the county’s borders to determine how much each municipality will receive from the tax.

With the tax collections in the last 10 years lagging behind initial projections, the amounts collected were lower than anticipated, but are showing signs of improvement. With some optimism regarding future projections and with extensive wish lists for local projects in each city, all entities understand that the process is not going to be an easy one. Ten years ago, the negotiations became very contentious and ended up in arbitration, with no one entirely pleased with the outcome.

On Monday, Lowndes County hosted the initial negotiation meeting and proposed that all governments stay with the amounts they received in the last go-round. They gave the cities until next Monday to give a yea or nay to the proposal.

With new leadership in each city since 2002, and in the county, it’s probably not feasible to expect everyone to simply take what is offered and go away. But it’s also not feasible for the cities to expect the county to give up too much, considering that the gain of a person and a household in any city is also a gain in the county as well.

So if the initial proposal is not accepted and negotiations begin, it’s not necessarily a bad thing as all mayors are expected to protect the interests of the citizens. Where it may take a wrong turn, however, is if the negotiations dissolve into the battles and name calling which they did in 2002. That’s not necessary and is uncalled for.

All leadership in the cities and the county are bright, professional individuals, and while they may disagree, they need to remember to do so in a courteous manner. It is guaranteed that the outcome will never please all five cities and the county, but the outcome should at least be palatable and reached in a civilized manner.

When local governments disagree and fight amongst themselves, all it does is create a negative impression in the state and other communities. We need to keep our image positive, and reinforce an image that, despite disagreements, everyone works well together for the benefit of all, not just their own fiefdoms. To all government officials, pretend that the economic future of Lowndes County depends on the cooperation and image portrayed between all governments involved — because it does.

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