Tax split formula goes to court - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Tax split formula goes to court

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

After months of negotiations, Albany and Dougherty County leaders still can't agree on how to split local option sales tax revenue. Both sides want more money than they're currently getting and now a judge will decide the split. 

The one percent sales tax generated by local sales has brought Dougherty County about $7 million each year and the city of Albany has been receiving about $10 million.

Now a judge may make changes to the formula which splits the local option sales tax revenue, also called LOST.

"There are some criteria that's used to determine how it can be done. And so using that criteria the people I sent to represent us in that process think that we deserve more. And of course the County thinks that they deserve more," said Mayor Dorothy Hubbard.

For the past 20 years it's been the same with the city receiving 60% and the county receiving 40. The formula is negotiated every 10 years. But this time leaders from both sides could not reach an agreement by their December 31st deadline.

"Several of our commissioners and I had talked about initially leaving it the way it is, but the people that we sent to negotiate are very adamant about letting it go to court and just seeing what will happen," Hubbard said.

Under new legislation, a superior court judge will hear both sides then make a decision.

"We look forward to a favorable outcome," said Commissioner Gloria Gaines. "I'm not disappointed that we're going through this process. It was there for us, we were unable to reach an agreement earlier and I think this process will settle it in a fair way."

"Now that the legislature has put this process in place, a process where you can go to court and have an independent third party judge look at it and make a decision, then we feel relatively comfortable that we can at least be heard," Hubbard said.

During the lengthy negotiation process leaders from both sides have been quiet about how much of a change they want. Now it will be brought out in court where the split will finally be settled.

All of the money generated from LOST revenue goes into the general funds for the city and county.

Superior Court Judge Ronnie Joe Lane has been assigned to the trial. A court date has not been set. The non-jury trial is expected to last one to two days.

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