Tift County commissioners gathered for a called meeting Wednesday after receiving notification regarding Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) collections and distributions. This came after the Supreme Court's Turner County vs. city of Ashburn decision.
The decision in Turner County was made during the fourth time the matter came before the court. According to court documents, Turner County and the city of Ashburn reached an impasse during negotiations for renewing the LOST certificate which authorizes the two entities to collect and distribute tax.The certificate was due Dec. 30, 2012. Turner County filed a motion to dismiss the petition, which contained constitutional challenges to the 2010 amendment and the process for submitting the distribution dispute for judicial resolution.
The motion was denied in trial court, sustaining the 2010 amendment. The court also entered a final order adopting the "final and best offer of the municipalities." The Supreme Court granted Turner County's appeal to challenge the amendment, finding the procedure for judicial resolution set forth violated the separation of powers doctrine of the Georgia Constitution of 1983. Once this was found, that portion of the statute was determined void.
In correspondence from the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association dated Oct. 16, county officials were urged to approve and submit LOST certificates to the Georgia Department of Revenue by 4:30 p.m. Oct. 17. This would mean all municipalities in Tift County – including Omega, Tifton and Ty Ty, as well as the county.
The Certificate of Distribution approved and submitted by the Tift County Commission for LOST distributions between Jan. 1, 2013 and ending Dec. 31, 2022 indicated that the proceeds of the Joint County and Municipal Sales and Use tax generated in Tifton County would be distributed as follows: city of Omega, 3.05 percent; city of Tifton, 33.33 percent; city of Ty Ty, 1.64 percent; and Tift County, 61.98 percent.
If the county had not been able to meet the deadline imposed this week, Tift County, as well as the cities of Tifton, Ty Ty and Omega, would have collectively lost about $8 million per year for the next 10 years, according to Jim Carter, County Administrator.
LOST is a special purpose tax that is implemented and levied at the city or county level. The funds are often used as a means of obtaining money for specific local projects, such as improving roads. The tax is added to a state's base tax rate, and only applies within the city or county in which it was implemented. LOST requires a vote by the general public before it can be implemented.
To contact editor Angye Morrison, call 382-4321.