October 14, 2013
The BOC tonight did what it said it had to do based on a directive from the ACCG, Attorney General’s office, and the Dep’t of Revenue. They approved the LOST agreement that was negotiated by the judge and the attorneys from Jasper County, Monticello, and Shady Dale in May 2013.
The county attorney said it was the same agreement, but the judge’s signature line had been removed. This agreement gives the City of Monticello 30% of the LOST proceeds, Shady Dale 3%, and the County 67%.
Based on the census figures, the County has 78% of the population, Monticello has 20% (during daytime hours), and Shady Dale has 2%.
The current proceeds are shown in this chart. LOST is STLO/3780/5070 columns. (Click on chart to enlarge)
The County proceeds for the year should be approximately $539,000. The estimated total LOST proceeds for 2013 is $805,000 or $8,050 per 1%. If County received a percentage more in line with its population (11% additional or 78% of the total) and based on the county’s contribution to the great majority of the services provided (EMS, Fire, Sheriff, Animal Control, Recreation, etc.) the county would receive $88,550 per year more or $885,500 more over the 10 year period. This additional revenue would lower county property taxes by the same amount. If the economy gets better and the sales tax proceeds increase, the amount the county would receive over 10 years would be even greater. This is why the LOST negotiations were so important; it is significant income to the county and cities.
There were questions raised again tonight by both Charles Forsythe (City resident) and Mary Patrick (County resident) as to when the County or City had ever approved the LOST agreement. The county attorney has repeatedly assured everyone (including the BOC members) that this was approved and it was in the minutes. However, after going through all the minutes since May 6, 2013, there is NOTHING in the minutes where the BOC ever approved this agreement before tonight. The tax has continued to be collected nevertheless.
Other questions were raised concerning the meeting:
- Was the meeting legal since it was held on a legal holiday and the posting on the door was next to the sign stating the courthouse was closed today?
- Why was there such a rush to do this, including having the City Council meet tonight with less than a 12 hour notice to the public (the county attorney announced the City Council was meeting at 7:00PM; their notice was posted after 7:00AM)
- Why the BOC had to go into Executive Session to discuss possibilities of what might happen if the courts don’t approve of the procedure tonight. (This is not pending litigation or personnel and should not be something discussed behind closed doors.)
The county attorney gave some answers and information. He said that since the procedure had been held unconstitutional, that the only way (according to the Attorney General and the Dept of Revenue) for the LOST to continue to be collected would be to sign another agreement and send a certificate to the State. If this wasn’t done, the sales tax would cease to be collected as of Thursday (Oct. 17th). If the taxes weren’t collected, this would cost each entity too much money and there would be no way to make it up until the next tax bills came out in 2014. (Note: This means no 1% sales tax would be collected for TEN years if a new resolution wasn’t signed for a loss of $8,000,000 over 10 years.)
All 3 parties to the agreement have to sign the resolution and have it sent in to the State DOR by Thursday at the close of business. The county attorney says he and other 2 attorneys have worked several days on this.
Comm. Trammell and Comm. Luke made the motion and 2nd to go into Executive Session for discussion at 6:15PM. Vote 5-0
AT 6:27PM. Comm. Salmon and Comm. Henry voted to come out of Executive Session. Vote 5-0.
Comm. Trammell and Comm. Henry voted to “approve as presented.” No details were mentioned as to what “presented” meant or included. The vote was 5-0.
Comm. Luke said all this was given to them on Friday night by the State DOR. Comm. Trammell said several members would be out of town and that is why the meeting was called for on a holiday. Mayor Heaton of Shady Dale asked if anything changed. The county attorney answered, “Only the Judge’s signature line is taken off and all percentages are the same.”
After the meeting, three commissioners, Comm. Luke, Comm. Trammell, and Comm. Pennamon all went to the City Council meeting. Just another violation of open meetings, but in Jasper County, what does it matter?