District 1 Commissioner Henry Mitchell III, who with District 4 Commissioner Ann Jones-Guider, voted against approving the distribution agreement, stated that while he wanted every entity to get a fair share of the Local Option Sales Tax “how we divide will affect the citizens of Douglas County in services received and taxes they pay.”
“This vote is all about expenses versus revenues of Douglas County. At the end of the day, the number we are talking about, we will have to make up,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell asked that the Local Option Sales Tax distribution item be removed from the consent agenda to be voted on separately following further discussion.
The county now receives 79.06 percent of the tax, which brings in almost $22 million annually. A negotiated agreement drops the share to 66 percent by 2022.
Commissioner Kelly Robinson, who voted with the majority to approve the agreement 3-2, said that even as a “pragmatic person,” he was not optimistic in regard to the economy.
“We will have less going forward,” Robinson said. “It is going to get very real. How do we make up this shortfall? It is not about the money, it is what we do about it.”
Commission Chairman Tom Worthan reiterated that if the board and other entities entitled to a share of LOST could not come up with an agreement, it would be up to a court to decide.
According to Worthan, the negotiations to divide LOST funds with the cities of Douglasville, Villa Rica and Austell, who each are located in portions of Douglas County, have been going on since last fall.
The process of dividing LOST funds have to be determined every 10 years, explained Worthan. Eight criteria, including population, goes into determining how each party receives its share of the one-cent sales tax that Douglas County voters approved in 1978.
In other action, Douglas County commissioners heard the county government received an “unqualified clean opinion” during an audit presentation on 2011 finances Aug. 21.
According to CPAs Tim Beal and Gregory Chapman of Nichols, Cauley & Associates LLC, who addressed the board, the “clean opinion” meant there were “no exceptions” to the county’s financial report.
Commissioners also approved a resolution in support of the city of Douglasville renaming South Cherokee Boulevard to Sheriff Earl D. Lee Boulevard in honor and memory of the late, former Douglas County sheriff.
Lee served five terms as the county’s top law enforcement officer, said the proclamation, and served from 1972 through 1992.