The Union Recorder

Local News

November 23, 2012

County shuts down LOST plan

Agreement negotiations move to costly state arbitration

MILLEDGEVILLE —  

With a vote of 3-2, the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners voted down the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) intergovernmental agreement approved by the City of Milledgeville.

Chair Faye Smith and Commissioner Sammy Hall voted for, while commissioners Bubba Williams, Linda Fussell and Emily Davis voted against the agreement.

Milledgeville City Council approved the LOST agreement in a called meeting early Tuesday. All present aldermen but Jeanette Walden, District 2, voted to approve the intergovernmental agreement.

Walden cited a significant dip in the 2013 fiscal year tax revenue. The councilwoman stated that city losses totaling almost $900,000 from the percentage kicked back to the county would only burden taxpayers in the future.

It’s a 1.38 average percent increase in LOST county revenue over the next 10 years.

A seemingly small provision that would lease the lower level of the Baldwin courthouse parking deck to the city proved to be the snag. If approved as written, the city would have exclusive possession, operation and control of the 61 marked spaces.

Also, the city would designate six spaces adjacent to the courthouse within the 100 block of North Wilkinson Street for courthouse business. A system providing parking passes for grand jurors and traverse jurors to cover their periods of service was included.

Sheriff Bill Massee read a letter addressed to the commission taking issue with the idea of leasing those limited spaces. Massee estimated that 240,000 people come in and out of the courthouse yearly, and that the LOST agreement provision would cripple the constitutional mandate of county courts and employees.

“I wrote a lengthy letter because I wanted those people that see it to understand what county government has to do. Once we lose these parking spaces, we will never get them back again,” Massee said. “I encourage y’all to consider this. The other constitutional offices are not here because we had no notice of this. I know this is a negotiation, but we are giving away a vital county asset.”

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