October 20, 2013
Editor’s note: The City of Thomaston issued the following press release in response to a LOST agreement put forth by the County. The entities have to resubmit the agreement due to a decision made by the Supreme Court which stated the arbitration portion of the LOST negotiations is unconstitutional. For more the county’s side, see the story at the top of the page.
In a city council meeting Tuesday, October 15, 2013, the city voted to reject a Local option Sales Tax (LOST) Distribution Certificate proposed by the County just prior to the meeting. The County’s certificate contained a future termination date of June 30, 2014. The County’s certificate contradicted the terms and conditions of the agreement already reached by the City and the County in August and also Judge Boswell’s September court order, by which the City and County are bound.
Chairman Blackston stated at the meeting that the County added a future termination date into its proposed certificate at the recommendation of the Georgia Attorney General, the Georgia Department of Revenue and other entities. Contrary to Blackston’s statement, the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) and the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) recommended that certificates do NOT contain any conditions, including termination dates, based upon their communications with the Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Revenue. This position is set forth in a joint communication issued to county and city officials statewide by the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) and the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA).
The joint memorandum stated in part, “Representatives of both ACCG and GMA met with Attorney General Olens, his staff, and several legislators to discuss strategy for protecting continued Local Option Sales Tax collections and distributions following the Supreme Court’s Turner County v. City of Ashburn decision.”
The memorandum suggested that cities and counties execute new LOST certificates. The memorandum continued, “We also recommend that LOST certificates be submitted ‘clean,’ meaning that there be no conditions attached to the certificates such as future termination dates…where at all possible certificates should be submitted without conditions.”
This joint communication, signed by the Executive Director of the County’s advisory association, unequivocally supports the position the city has taken in this matter. The City urges the County to take emergency action immediately to submit a “clean” LOST Distribution Certificate as recommended by state officials and the Executive Director of the County’s advisory association.