Peach County LOST court date set

chwright@macon.comDecember 11, 2012 

A judge and date have been selected to determine how Peach County will distribute revenue from a penny sales tax, though Fort Valley Mayor John Stumbo said the meeting could be unnecessary.

“The county has indicated they would be willing to talk sometime between now and the end of the year, and we (the cities) are certainly willing to meet,” Stumbo said.

The county and cities missed a state-imposed deadline in October to decide how to distribute the local option sales tax revenue for the next 10 years, forcing the parties to file for an out-of-county judge to decide for them. The cities are hoping for a larger share of the pie.

Judge Loring Gray, of Albany-Dougherty County Superior Court, was selected to hear proposals Jan. 16 in Peach County, according to Peach County Superior Court Clerk Joe Wilder.

Georgia requires the distribution of a LOST, which functions to rollback property taxes for each entity, be renegotiated every 10 years. Representatives from the county and cities of Fort Valley and Byron met among themselves and then with a mediator this fall but were unable to agree on the new split.

The current split is set to expire Dec. 31, and officials were unsure what will happen after that date, since Peach County’s arbitration is set for the new year. This is the first year of negotiations since the state Legislature added in the arbitration phase.

“Since the process has changed, there are some unknowns,” said Amy Henderson, of the Georgia Municipal Association.

Henderson and Stumbo said they believe the current split would continue until the judge decides the new split.

But it could be a moot point if the county and cities come to an agreement by the end of the year.

The parties came to a stand-off during open negotiations because the cities wanted a larger portion of the tax revenue, and the county didn’t want less than the 60 percent it receives now.

Currently, Fort Valley receives 31.5 percent and Byron receives 8.5 percent.

The LOST generated about $35.8 million between January 2003 and May 2012.

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