Dougherty Co. approves 60/40 split in tax dispute - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty Co. approves 60/40 split in tax dispute

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Dougherty County Board of Commissioners at Monday's special called meeting in the Government Center in downtown Albany Dougherty County Board of Commissioners at Monday's special called meeting in the Government Center in downtown Albany
Chairman Jeff SInyard, Dougherty County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jeff SInyard, Dougherty County Board of Commissioners
Vice Chair Gloria Gaines, Dougherty County Board of Commissioners Vice Chair Gloria Gaines, Dougherty County Board of Commissioners
The Government Center in downtown Albany The Government Center in downtown Albany
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

 Albany and Dougherty County could lose millions of dollars of sales tax revenue if leaders don't reach an agreement on how to split the money by Wednesday.  Monday, County leaders unanimously approved a 60/40 split in favor of the city.

Last week, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the way the city and county came to a previous deal, through arbitration, was unconstitutional.  On Friday, the attorney general notified commissioners that they must reach a new agreement by Wednesday.

The county and the city have been in negotiations on dividing up LOST funds since July, but the $16 Million in revenue could be permanently lost if an agreement isn't reached by Wednesday.

"We don't need to play games with this, we need to move this forward.  And I really feel very strongly that we will.  There are a lot of folks that want to do the right thing, and this is a good time to do it," said Chairman Jeff Sinyard, Dougherty County Board of Commissioners. 

The Georgia Supreme Court declared arbitration an unconstitutional way to divide LOST revenue in a dispute between Turner County and the cities of Ashburn, Rebecca and Sycamore. 

Dougherty County is one of 21 other counties that used the method.  They must all now find a quick solution.

"At the end of the day, the county commission met many, many times in executive session and made the decision that it's the right thing for the tax payers, and it's the best thing for our community if we keep the percentages as they have been for the last 20 years," said Sinyard. 

The 60/40 split was decided on in 1990 and has been stuck with over the years.  Now, county leaders say given the deadline, it's the most fair way to split up LOST. 

"If the city does not go along with the 60/40 split, then we lost the LOST period.  We lose it. That's all there is to it," said Vice Chair Gloria Gaines, Dougherty County Board of Commissioners. 

The city will receive 60% of the funds, or roughly $9, and the county will receive 40%, or roughly $7 Million.  Losing the money would have serious implications.

"It is hard to imagine.  What do we do?  Do we open up the jail and let the prisoners out?  Is that what we want.  I can imagine not," said Gaines. 

But county leaders feel confident city commissioners will agree with the resolution.   Chairman Sinyard spoke with Mayor Hubbard about the resolution following the vote, and said he's confident an agreement will be reached by Wednesday. 

County commissioners said if the city doesn't agree to the deal, both local governments would likely have to raise property taxes.

The agreement will extend until 2022. City leaders plan to discuss the resolution at Tuesday's meeting.

 

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