Local News

August 2, 2013

Whitfield, local cities have sales tax revenues withheld to pay back overpayment

Local schools also affected

The Georgia Department of Revenue withheld $368,000 from Whitfield County’s June Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenues when it sent a check with those funds earlier this week.

And county officials say they expect the state will withhold a similar amount when it sends the July LOST check later this month.

“A local business appealed its payments, and the (the Department of Revenue) found they paid too much revenue in 2009, 2010 and 2011 on some type of purchase,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Mike Babb. “The state said we would have to repay that money. Everything goes through the state, so this month they withheld $368,000 to repay them, which is one half of our share of what we owe. They’ll take the rest out of our next check.”

All told, the business is getting back around $890,000 in LOST dollars from Whitfield County. A Department of Revenue spokesman said confidentiality laws forbid the agency from saying which company overpaid its taxes.

LOST dollars are divided among the county and the city of Dalton and the other cities in the county. Under the agreement in place at the time those taxes were collected, the county received 83.24 percent of LOST revenues, Dalton got 14.93 percent and the smaller cities divided the rest. So that’s how the repayments were assessed.

Babb said the county will also have to refund about $500,000 in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) payments. Whitfield County does not currently have a SPLOST, so the state will withhold those funds when the county imposes another SPLOST.

“Basically, the next time we create a SPLOST, we’ll start out in the hole,” said Dalton Finance Director Cindy Jackson.

The business is also getting back about just under $890,000 for overpayments of the Whitfield County Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST).

Babb says local officials found out they would have to repay that money just last week.

“If we’d been notified several months ago there might be a reduction it would have helped us plan for it. And I wish they’d scattered it over a few more months, not just two. It would have been easier to handle,” Babb said.

He said the county will have to dip into its fund balance of approximately $14 million to offset the losses.

Asked why the money was being taken away from the county over just two months, Nick Genesi, the spokesman for the Department of Revenue, said the money for a refund is taken all at once from the system.

“For this case there were three refund requests, one for each year. One of the three was processed before the July distribution. The other two were processed after the July distribution,” he said.

Concerning the confidentiality laws, “I can say that it is a refund of sales tax paid on manufacturing equipment that is exempt under state law,” he said.

Dalton Mayor David Pennington said the lack of information from the state is frustrating.

“We levy the tax, not them. They just collect the tax for us. They need to tell us what happened,” he said.

Babb said he shares that frustration.

“It’s like the bank taking money out of your account and telling you that it took that money to pay back someone who sent you a check for too much money. But they won’t tell you who that person was,” he said.

The Dalton and Whitfield school systems are also seeing their ESPLOST funds withheld to pay back the overpayments.

“We think the total of our share of that will be just under $300,000, but we don’t have an exact figure yet,” said Dalton Public Schools Communications Director Pat Holloway.

Dalton Public Schools gets roughly a third of county ESPLOST funds.

Holloway said that means the school system may have to adjust plans for its current ESPLOST projects, the expansion of Dalton Middle School and Morris Innovative High School.

“We just started collecting that tax in January, so it’s early in the planning process, and we can make those adjustments if we need to,” she said.

When the ESPLOST passed last year, officials projected it would raise $105 million over five years, with county schools taking $68.65 million and city schools getting $36.35 million.

Officials at Whitfield County Schools did not immediately return telephone messages at their offices Thursday afternoon.

Whitfield County isn’t the only county affected.

Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said the Department of Revenue withheld $80,000 from its latest sales tax check and she expects it will also withhold money in its next payment.

“I’m told it’s to refund money to a company that overpaid its sales tax,” she said.

Murray County Finance Director Tommy Parker says that county wasn’t affected.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local congressmen agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014

  • Former chamber location 2 mlh.jpg Plan could cut flooding, stormwater damage in Dalton

    On a recent day, McClellan Creek flowed gently through Harlan Godfrey Civitan Park. But some park goers who live near the area say that even a mild rain can turn the creek into a torrent that eats away at their property.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War anniversary: The Battle of Crow Valley, May 9-12, 1864

    The Atlanta Campaign began during the first two weeks of May 1864 in and around Dalton. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s strategy was to target two of his armies, about 80,000 men, against Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Dalton. Then, while Johnston’s attention was diverted by these forces, he would secretly send his third army, about 25,000 troops under Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, in a flanking movement to the southwest through Snake Creek Gap. Sherman’s goal was to break Johnston’s railroad supply line some 15 miles south at Resaca and trap Johnston’s Confederates in Dalton.

    July 26, 2014

  • New church being  built mlh.jpg Church construction continues

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Avans.jpg Three arrested in arson plot to claim insurance money

    Three people have been arrested for their role in a fire at a Chatsworth home as part of an insurance scam to collect money, officials said.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • Investigation into MFG chemical accident continues

    An investigation is still ongoing after a MFG Chemical employee was injured earlier this month at a plant on Kimberly Park Drive.

    July 25, 2014

  • Judge sets $100,000 bond for Cohutta man accused of incest, molestation

    A Cohutta man charged with incest, aggravated sodomy and child molestation was granted a $100,000 bond over the prosecutor’s objection on Friday.

    July 25, 2014