Villa Rica’s percentage increased from an initial proposal of 7.5 percent of the overall municipal population take to 7.57 percent, or the percentage of the city’s population in the county. Temple’s offer increased from 3.62 percent to 3.82 percent. Currently, Villa Rica receives 6.5 percent and Temple receives 2.62 percent.
In comparison, unincorporated Carroll County would receive 58.46 percent, Bowdon 2.5 percent, Bremen 0.32 percent, Carrollton 24.5 percent, Mt. Zion 1.53 percent, Roopville 0.20 percent, and Whitesburg would receive 1.1 percent. These are all increases over current percentages, with the exceptions of Carroll County and Carrollton.
“The 3.82 is a better percentage, so I think it’s fair to say we’re OK with the offer,” Temple Mayor Rick Ford said. “We feel like it’s fair because it is based on population and we’re the third largest city in Carroll County. I would like to thank outgoing
Chairman Bill Chappell for the spirit of cooperation between the municipalities in the county, because over the last few years we have been able to do several projects that we would not have been able to do without some help from Carroll County. It’s been a good partnership between Carroll County and the city of Temple and the other municipalities.”
While Ford is pleased with the most recent offer from the county, Mayor J. Collins is seeking to tie the local option sales tax, or LOST, to the service delivery strategy aimed at avoiding a duplication of services between counties and cities that most also be agreed upon every 10 years.
“The money by itself is one issue, but I think to be fair and equitable we tie both together,” Collins said. “The majority of our population is in Carroll County and I think it’s high time somebody addresses the double taxation that’s going on and that we get credit through millage rate rollbacks for the services that we provide to our residents.”
Collins is specifically addressing the solid waste service the city provides, as well as police, library, recreation, community development services and other services that city residents are paying for in taxes to both the city and county.
“I don’t want to just completely wipe out what the county does for us,” Collins said. “There are certain areas that everybody in the county needs to pay for, but the largest budget I see out there is the sheriff’s office. Understanding that Terry Langley does a great job as a sheriff, but we shouldn’t have to fund the patrol division of the sheriff’s office that patrols the unincorporated portion of Carroll County, because our residents who live in Villa Rica are paying for and are, quite frankly, receiving a high level of police service and they shouldn’t be taxed for the services they aren’t receiving.”
Regardless of the LOST percentage Temple has received the last 10 years, Ford said he’s been pleased with the financial assistance the county has provided other projects in the city based on the service delivery strategy and he is optimistic that cooperation will continue.
“We hope that spirit of cooperation continues with (Chairman-elect) Marty Smith and we have no reason to believe it will not,” Ford said.
Collins is in favor of creating special tax districts that go beyond the borders of the municipalities and millage rollbacks would be based on the services and property tax bases in those areas. It is a model created and used successfully in Gwinnett County, Collins said.
Ford admits he doesn’t know enough about special tax districts to state definitively whether he is for or against their incorporation into the service delivery strategy discussions.
“I really don’t have enough information to speak intelligently about it yet, but on the surface it seems like a good proposal,” he said.
Though to Collins it seems a simple solution, he has had difficulty convincing his colleagues in other cities of the benefits to their residents.
“Creating these special tax districts seems difficult to some of those that are involved in the process,” he said. “I don’t think it’s difficult at all because the county already does our tax bills for us. The method is already in place because Carrollton is being compensated for the fire service they are providing their residents.
“I think people just don’t want to deal with the issue because they feel it’s going to alienate some, but at the end of the day it’s all about being fair and equitable. It’s very simple: you get what you pay for and you pay for what you get. Just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean that it can’t be done.”
The next round of meetings is scheduled for Oct. 15 and Oct. 17 and the municipalities have been directed to be prepared to accept the agreement.
“Of course, we want our fair share, but we’re also trying to be cognizant of smaller cities in the county. We don’t want to take away from their percentage distribution and hurt them,” Ford said. “If Carroll County grows exponentially it’s going to help every one of the cities. It’s not us against them.”