North Fulton's mayors want the county's Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) to be divvied up by population. Leaving Fulton County's share to be determined by the population of the dwindled unincorporated part of the county.
The polarizing issue has raised some ire in the long-running debate between North Fulton versus South Fulton.
Roswell Mayor Jere Wood is among advocates for population-based tax distribution and wants residents to continue to benefit from the penny sales tax collected by Fulton County that plays a large role in keeping property taxes down.
“This money goes into our general fund and it is about one-third of our budget, so it’s a big number,” Wood said. “The intent is to
reduce the amount of property tax we pay.”
Every city in the county receives some of the proceeds from the tax. When the law providing for the tax was created about 10 years ago, it called for the proceeds to be divvied up among the cities based on the U.S. Census figures for city populations. Wood wants to keep it that way, but in South Fulton County, where populations have decreased, officials want the formula to be changed.
Roswell has received about 8 percent of the proceeds over the past
10 years. Estimates show that to be about $18 million a year. Roswell’s population increased almost 12 percent from 2000 to 2010, which put it at roughly 88,000. Considering the city has enjoyed continued population growth, it stands to gain roughly $1.8 million more a year if the formula is not changed, according to city staff.
On that same note, cities in South Fulton County have seen their populations decline and stand to lose some of their allocations. One of the leaders there, East Point Mayor Earnestine Pittman has said that she wants to see the formula changed so that a point of sale system is used to determine how much each city receives.
Any determination of the distribution will involve population counts. The percentage of sales tax dollars the county itself would get should decrease regardless of whether or not a new formula or the existing formula is used, Regus told the Alpharetta City Council on July 11.
All of the cities in Fulton will be able to chime in on the issue over the next 12 months before negotiations officially begin next year. The current agreement expires on Dec. 31, 2012. If they cannot come to an agreement over how the tax proceeds will be disbursed, they will have to go before a judge for arbitration. The judge would then pick the formula that will be used.
"There is a lot of negotiation that must be done before
anything is final,” said Roswell attorney David Davidson. “But I can say this now; there is no way we’d present something that doesn’t follow the law.”