Fort Valley, Byron hire consultant in LOST negotiations

The cities of Fort Valley and Byron have hired a consultant to draft a report for use in negotiations with Peach County over the next split of a local sales tax, Mayor John Stumbo said.

Officials from the cities and county met again Wednesday to talk about the new distribution of the countywide local option sales tax, which is required every 10 years. The 1 percent LOST is used to roll back the millage rates in each government.

Not much progress was made at the meeting, according to Stumbo and Peach County Commission Chairman Melvin Walker. The cities have said they want 53 percent of the LOST, while Walker has said the county will take no less than its previous 60 percent.

That’s 113 percent of a 100-percent pie, so the officials have all but decided they will have to enter the mediation phase. They agreed to have a mediator on standby, given they have just one more meeting before the Aug. 17 deadline to make a decision amongst themselves.

Stumbo said consultant Michael Brown, of Savannah-based Brown Pelican Consulting LLC, should have a report available for the cities and county in the next few days.

The mayor said he wants to see the report before deciding whether the cities should budge, Stumbo said.

Walker said he understands the cities’ decision to hire a consultant. The county has hired Phil Sutton, of Sutton Consulting LLC. The firm is located in Flowery Branch.

To contact writer Christina M. Wright, call 256-9685.