LOST negotiations continue between county and city leaders - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

LOST negotiations continue between county and city leaders

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Albany and Dougherty leaders still haven't reached an agreement on how to split the Local Option Sales Tax revenue, despite Monday's second meeting with mediator. 

Time is ticking for Albany City and Dougherty County commissioners. Leaders are still negotiating how to split millions of dollars from the Local Option Sales Tax revenue, also called LOST.

A formula was agreed upon when it began more than 20 years ago the city gets 60% and the county 40%. 

But every ten years they must approve a new deal.

"And so it's important because a lot of things happen over that period of time.  And so you need to make sure that you have the resources to make sure that your government is running adequately.  So it's very important and this is why we're spending so much energy having discussions about this to see what is equitable and how to move forward," said Christopher Pike, an Albany City Commissioner.

And both sides want bigger portions.

"We just have to go through the process.  We each have consultants that show that each of us should receive more. So we're in the middle of the mediation phase right now," Lamar Hudgins, a Dougherty County Commissioner.

Each year the county has been receiving about $7 million from LOST that they use to keep property taxes down.

"Straight to rollback mileage rate, property taxes. That's all. It's not splost. It's local option sales tax used to reduce the mileage rate for property owners," Hudgins.

And the city has been receiving about $10 million.

"We use that money to do very general, basic things like pay police officers, day to day operations of county and city government," said Pike.

The local governments are currently in the mediation stage and have until the end of the month to come to an agreement.

"The taxpayers of Dougherty County are the ones who have benefit or lose from this negotiation.  So it's very important," said Hudgins.

Leaders on both sides aren't saying how much more they want until a decision has been made.

If an agreement is not reached by the end of this month, it will go to arbitration.  And the final decision could be up to a superior court judge. 

Commissioners say they're confident they can reach an agreement on their own.

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