The Valdosta Daily Times
All of the citizens of Lowndes County are county residents, regardless of the city in which they reside. All partake of the many services that are mandated, by the state, that all counties must provide. These services include maintaining the county jail, the court systems for Juvenile, Superior, State, Magistrate and Probate, all of the judges, the public defenders office, the district attorney’s office, the public health department, the animal shelter, county-wide law enforcement, the elections office, the tax commissioner, the board of assessors, the clerk of courts, and emergency management, in addition to water/sewer, fire protection, road maintenance, planning and zoning, etc., provided to citizens in the un-incorporated area.
It is understandable that the cities within the county feel that their population growth puts more of a strain on their budgets, and therefore, they deserve more of the proceeds from the Local Option Sales Tax.
But every citizen gained by a city in the county is also gained by Lowndes County, further straining the county budget to supply the services that it has no choice but to provide.
The City of Valdosta offers four times the number of services it is required to by law, and those services greatly benefit city residents and offer a higher quality of life. But that is a choice, not a mandate.
The Georgia Supreme Court ruling and the Attorney General’s ruling both support the concept of allocating proceeds from LOST based on services provided, not population. In agreeing with the two foremost legal authorities in the state, The Times praises the county leaders for not taking advantage of the situation and demanding more from LOST, leaving the allocations the same, and praises the cities for recognizing the importance of LOST to their bottom lines and signing the certificate in order to keep the tax from lapsing, even though the cities didn’t get what they wanted.
Everyone benefits, including taxpayers, whose property taxes are rolled back annually to reflect the LOST collections.