Monroe County, Forsyth negotiating tax split

pramati@macon.comNovember 2, 2012 

With Monroe County’s local option sales tax set to expire at the end of the year, the county and city of Forsyth entered mediation earlier this week in an attempt to reach an amicable split of the money.

The county receives 69.1 percent of the current LOST, while Forsyth gets 28.5 percent and Culloden receives 2.4 percent. Culloden isn’t part of the current mediation.

Since mediator Normal Fletcher, who formerly sat on the Georgia Supreme Court and has served as a county attorney and a city attorney in the past, ordered all participants to sign a gag order, there’s little information about what each side is asking for during the negotiations.

County Commission Chairman James Vaughn said he wouldn’t get into specifics about what the county is seeking, but he noted that LOSTs are re-examined every 10 years, after U.S. Census Bureau information is made available.

During the past decade, Vaughn noted, the county has seen a significant population increase.

“The county’s population has increased by 21 percent,” he said. “(Forsyth) has remained relatively static. We’re discussing if (the split) should be increased, what services might be impacted. There are a lot of things on the table.”

Several messages were left with Forsyth Mayor John Howard and City Manager Thomas White seeking comment, but those calls weren’t returned.

Vaughn said the LOST generates nearly $5 million a year, which goes into the general funds of all the entities that receive the money.

“It’s a concept that was invented decades ago to help roll back property taxes,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn said the county and Forsyth tried a couple of times to meet about the LOST, but weren’t able to. This past Monday, the parties met for the first mediation session. Vaughn said another session is planned, but a date hasn’t been set.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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