County and cities disagree on LOST revenue distribution | News
LOWNDES COUNTY, GA- A showdown over how to split sales tax revenue in Lowndes County may be decided by a judge.
Leaders from the county and five cities in the county couldn't come to an agreement, even after calling in an independent mediator.
A ten year agreement on how local governments in Lowndes County divide Local Option Sales Tax revenue is ending, and they can't agree on a new deal. The cities want a larger share. County leaders think that's unfair.
"They want to take it the other way where it penalizes the county tax payer tremendously and I just feel like I should stand up for all the tax payers, all the tax payers live in Lowndes County," said Ashley Paulk, Lowndes County Commission Chairman.
Right now the under the Certificate of Distribution, the county receives 58-percent and the cities split the remaining 42.
Since the parties could not come to an agreement, the issue may be decided by a judge.
"You know if we go to superior court, the county could very well with the information we have, we could wind up with a better deal than we have now, so I'm certainly not afraid to go to superior court," said Paulk.
Ralph Rigby is a real estate investor and owns more than 50 properties in the county and city. He says this issue needs to be resolved. He worries any loss of sales tax revenue will put a greater burden on property owners.
"I encourage the tax to be in effect because it helps us all, it's not just myself or you, it's everybody that has real estate or any type of business," said Rigby.
The City of Valdosta released a statement stating the parties will submit a best and final offer to a judge, and that they all put forth a good faith effort. All five cities signed the statement but the county refused.
"I can't sign something that's not true and good faith was not represented by all parties," said Paulk.
"I just wish the city and county could get their heads together and work together instead of at length," said Rigby.
The cities can still sign the proposal that has been in place the last ten years, or have the issue heard in court.
Valdosta city leaders did not want to talk about the issue today.
The parties have until the end of the year to come to an agreement or else the Local Option Sales Tax expires.
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