October 23, 2012

Board approves LOST, Jones votes against

Jamie Jones

— One Whitfield County Board of Commission member thinks the recent Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) agreement with the City of Dalton is a bad deal for property taxpayers.

Commissioner Greg Jones was the lone dissenting vote Monday night for the agreement, which both sides agreed to on Oct. 12. The measure passed 3-1, with Board Chairman Mike Babb usually only voting to break ties. The Dalton City Council approved the agreement with a 3-0 vote on Oct. 15.

“Everybody in Whitfield County is going to get a 1.6-mill increase on their tax bill next year because of giving the cities more money,” Jones said. “That’s my main concern. All we’re doing is transferring the taxes.”

If city and county leaders could not reach an agreement, a Superior Court judge would have ruled for one side. Although there would be “a lot of unknowns” in sending the LOST decision to a judge, Jones said he still doesn’t think the agreement was “the right move.”

The agreement calls for Dalton to receive 32 percent of LOST revenues in 2013, with that share rising 1 percent every other year to 36 percent in 2021. Whitfield County will get 64.851 percent in 2013, with that share dropping to 60.457 percent in 2021. The rest will be divided among the county’s other three cities.

State law requires cities and counties to renegotiate their LOST agreements every 10 years after the results of the latest census are in.

The LOST currently brings in about $17.2 million a year, and under the current LOST agreement negotiated 10 years ago the county receives 83.24 percent and Dalton gets 14.93 percent, with the rest divided among the other cities.

(Reporter Charles Oliver contributed to this report.)