State lawmakers are getting into the border dispute between Macon-Bibb and Monroe counties.
A new bill would keep tax money from the disputed area in escrow — held by a third party — until the yearslong dispute is settled.
“I hope it brings the sides to the table to compromise and negotiate because it’s all about the money,” state Rep. Robert Dickey, R-Musella, said just after he filed the bill.
Dickey said the bill covers both property taxes and sales taxes from a wedge of land that Macon-Bibb now counts as a piece of its territory on the northwest edge of the county. Monroe County has argued through several courts that the true county line is a little farther southeast, giving Monroe a little part of the Bass Pro Shops property as well as some houses and other properties on both sides of Interstate 75.
Dickey did not have an estimate of what the wedge of land is worth in property and sales taxes. Macon-Bibb has previously estimated that property taxes alone are worth about $2.1 million annually to the county and its schools.
Macon Republican state Rep. Allen Peake also signed the bill.
Peake said he hopes “to push locals to get this resolved and stop spending taxpayer money to fight this dispute.”
He also said the best solution is to leave the border as it is.
“Local residents moved into an area assuming that they were either in Macon-Bibb or Monroe. We shouldn’t change that on them,” he said.
Dickey and Peake have constituents in both Macon-Bibb and Monroe counties.
Macon-Bibb has spent at least $650,000 on the case over the years. Monroe County’s previous commission chairman, Mike Bilderback, estimated that his county had spent more than $2 million on the case.
But for Macon-Bibb, the bill raises more questions than answers, county spokesman Chris Floore said.
It impacts not only county finances but also school finances, he said.
“To hold revenue from a line that right now is feeding revenue to Macon-Bibb County hampers our ability to do the services that our public expects,” Floore said. He said the county would need to see the bill to see how it might impact the budget.
Not only that, Macon-Bibb’s budget is expected to be tight next year.
Monroe County Commission Chairman Greg Tapley said he was going to talk to fellow commissioners about the bill before commenting.
Macon-Bibb and Monroe have been fighting over the border for more than a decade. Right now, the case is in the hands of the Georgia secretary of state, Brian Kemp. Kemp began a series of hearings on the case in August, but he has also tried to get the two sides to come to an agreement.
Maggie Lee: @maggie_a_lee