Fulton County and its 15 cities are vying for the distribution of local option sales tax, also known as LOST.
LOST revenues over $300 million per year are traded every 10 years and must be finalized by December 30.
The decision could impact all Fulton County ratepayers and increase property taxes for homeowners.
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Mayors from across the county are coming together to hold town hall meetings so the public can learn about the LOST process and get their questions answered.
The first town hall will be held Wednesday, September 21 at 7 p.m. inside Roswell City Hall in North Fulton County.
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners will also hear an update on negotiations at their meeting on Wednesday morning.
The county’s first proposal was a massive increase from the current share of just under 5% up to 35%, totaling about an additional $90 million a year. The county says the increase is needed to pay for countywide services, including public health and safety, courts, and renovations or construction of a new jail.
“At the end of the day, it will be the cities or the taxpayers themselves who end up footing the bill,” Johns Creek Mayor John Bradberry said. The towns’ original proposal was to further reduce Fulton County’s percentage to less than 5% of LOST revenue.
According to Bradberry, to make up for nearly $8 million in lost tax revenue under the county’s proposal, Johns Creek would have to raise each homeowner’s property taxes by more than a third. “Cities are going to look like the bad guy because we’re the ones who are going to have to cut services or raise taxes, but it’s really the county that puts us in this very difficult position,” Bradberry said.
To keep the same funding and services, the mileage rate in Johns Creek would also have to exceed what is legally allowed in the city’s own charter, an issue with three other cities, including East Point.
Deana Holiday Ingraham, mayor of East Point, said the mileage rate change would “impact our budgets, impact (our) ability to deliver services, impact public safety and the services we provide our residents.”
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Fulton County says it has come down from its original 35% proposal. In a recently released fact sheet, they said the following: “Fulton County has three offers on the table, all of which allow the cities to maintain their current funding, but allow LOST County’s share to grow. with time.”
According to the mayors of the negotiating team, these offers would start at the current level of 5% of revenue, but would increase for the county over 10 years to 25% or more, while the cities current offer is between 5 % and 15%.
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