Board of Commissioners Chairman Bill Chappell, who hosted the 4 p.m. meeting at the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, asked those attending the meeting to “take a few days” to digest the material in the packet and come up with suggestions on how the division will be made.
He set the next LOST meeting for July 26 at 3:30 p.m. at the same Chamber location.
“During the next two weeks, send me any comments you have,” Chappell said. “We’ll discuss them and factor them in.”
He asked that the comments be e-mailed to County Clerk Susan Mabry.
The cities and county have until Aug. 28 to reach an agreement on the LOST funds division or submit the case to mediation or nonbinding arbitration. A renegotiated LOST certificate of distribution is due at the Georgia Department of Revenue office by Dec. 30.
The 1-cent LOST was approved by Carroll County voters in 1977 after the 1975 Georgia General Assembly approved the tax as a means to offset property taxes. The law provides for several factors to be considered for determining how the funds will be divided, with population playing a major role.
However, Sam Price, Bremen’s city attorney, expressed concern that using only population would be unfair to the small segment of his city that lies in Carroll County.
Price pointed out that the 2010 population in that segment is only 45 people, yet there are more than 70 commercial properties located there, which generate more than $1 million annually in taxes. He said there are several large companies in that area, employing a total of 500 people.
“Bremen is having to pay over $200,000 to provides services to these businesses, yet we’re only getting back $10,000 in LOST funds,” he said. “We’re not giving consideration for the business if we use a straight population basis.”
“I plan on being fair,” Chappell said. “Nobody is going to get as much as they want and nobody is going to get as much as they need. Population is one factor to be considered, and to me, one of the fairest.”
Mt. Zion Mayor Randy Sims said it’s irrelevant where businesses are located, because people from all over the county visit and benefit from large stores, such as Walmart.
“It’s way too early to be voicing my opinion,” Sims said. “We need to be sitting here today and learning.”
Under a clause known as the Absent Municipality Provision, only Carroll County and the city of Carrollton would be required to sign the LOST agreement. The provision defines “absent municipalities” as “those having a combined total population less than one-half of the aggregate population of all qualified municipalities in the county.”
However, the law does require that the absent municipalities receive a per capita share of the proceeds that are designated for distribution to qualified municipalities.
The total municipality population in Carroll County is 41,570 — Carrollton has 24,3888, or 58.7 percent of it. The next highest population is Villa Rica, with 8,367, which is only 20.1 percent of the municipality population, making it one of the absent municipalities.
Representatives from Carroll County, Bowdon, Bremen, Carrollton, Mt. Zion, Roopville, Temple, Villa Rica and Whitesburg attended the Thursday meeting.
Every 10 years, within two years of the census, county and city officials must renegotiate the formula for distributing LOST funds.
LOST differs from SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax), which is a penny sales tax that funds specific projects and is approved by voters in a countywide referendum.
Carroll County residents now pay 7 cents sales tax per dollar. Four cents goes to the state, with 1 cent each to the SPLOST, the education E-SPLOST and LOST. If the 1-cent transportation (T-SPLOST) is approved by the Three Rivers region voters on July 31, Carroll County residents will pay an 8-cent sales tax. The Three Rivers region includes the counties of Carroll, Butts, Coweta, Heard, Lamar, Meriwether, Pike, Spalding, Troup and Upson.