The decisions made over the next few months by your local government will ultimately impact your tax dollars.

Candler County, the City of Metter and Town of Pulaski are all deeply involved in developing comprehensive plans and preparing a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax wish list, all while reaching an agreement on the Service Delivery Strategy for Shared Services.

Sound complicated? It is. But it is also vital that these projects be completed in order to determine fair taxation for city and county residents and to set local governments in a position where they can capitalize on grant programs in the future.

 

Shared Services

Date Due: October 2017

The Service Delivery Strategy (House Bill 489) first came into play in 1997 and is reviewed every ten years.

The law requires city and county governments to review services that are shared by the governing entities to ensure that taxpayers are paying their fair share.

For instance, the city operates the fire department that provides county-wide services and the county operates the jail that provides services for the city of Metter. Those services are just two of the 50 or so services that are reviewed.

The thought behind the law is to protect citizens from double taxation. For instance, if a city resident is taxed by the City of Metter for fire protection and is also taxed by the county for that same protection, he is double-taxed for a single service. 

Through service delivery strategy negotiations, governing agencies review the services and establish how taxing is done, using such methods as tax districts, to prevent double taxation.

The Service Delivery Strategy for 2017 is required to be submitted to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs in October of this year.

On March 14, the City of Metter submitted a formal request to the county  for the city and county to enter formal mediation rather than work the particulars out themselves.

In the letter, City Attorney Brent Carter explained why the city requested mediation: “The Commissioners have informed us that they would like to renegotiate this plan in 2017. Since we have been attempting to do this for a number of years, with very little headway, the City would like to invite the County to consent to a mediation with a third party to assist in reaching an amicable agreement before the Oct. 31, 2017 deadline.”

But County Commission Chair Glyn Thrift said that mediation is seen as more of a last resort.

“We are trying to avoid mediation,” he said on Monday. Thrift added that County Administrator Doug Eaves, City Manager Mandi Cody, City Attorney Brent Carter and County Attorney Kendall Gross are supposed to meet along with representatives of city council and county commission on Wednesday afternoon.

SPLOST

Date Due: July 2017

The most recent penny sales tax was approved by voters in November 2011. The SPLOST referendum at that time called for a collection for six years for the raising of an estimated $7.2 million. 

The breakdown in 2011 for the first $7.2 million in SPLOST revenue was to be divided with 56 percent for the county, 40 percent for Metter and 4 percent for Pulaski. After the $7.2 million was raised, the next $500,000 was to go directly to the Candler County Industrial Authority. Any funds raised above that half-million mark would again be split among the three governing entities at the same percentage.

The measure passed with 74 percent of the voters in favor of the referendum.

In March, County Attorney Kendall Gross notified city Mayor Billy Trapnell of the county’s intent to put a new SPLOST referendum before voters. 

The letter called for a meeting on April 26 at 5 p.m. However, shortly before the meeting was to be held, commissioners called to have the meeting postponed.

In order have the vote for the SPLOST referendum on the November ballot, all negotiations must be completed by July.

Failure to have the ballot before voters by that time could mean that the vote would not take place until 2018. If that were the case, the SPLOST would expire when it ends March 31, 2018, and would not begin again until October. 

That could equate to a loss of $400,000 during the time the tax is not collected.

 

Comprehensive

Plans

Date Due: October 2017

The city of Metter is currently working to develop its 10-year comprehensive plan, while the county and Town of Pulaski are working on a joint plan. 

In years past, the comprehensive plan was inclusive of the county, City of Metter and Town of Pulaski, but this year, City Manager Mandi Cody opted to have the city’s plan done separately.

The City formally began its comprehensive plan in February, while the county started its plan in March.

Plans must be submitted to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs by October 2017.

 

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