After negotiating for approximately three hours on Thursday evening, the Banks County Board of Commissioners and the mayors of the cities of Alto, Baldwin, Gillsville, Lula and Maysville came to an agreement on how the local option sales tax (LOST) revenue would be distributed.
The meeting, held at the request of Maysville City Council member Kathleen Bush, opened with the BOC proposing to receive 85 percent of the revenues and the cities splitting the remaining 15 percent. The cities opened with an offer of 80.5 percent for the county.
By the time the meeting was finished, the county agreed to 83.25 percent with the cities, including Homer, splitting 16.75 percent.
At Thursday’s meeting, the group didn’t discuss dollar figures, just percentages.
Bush said at the start of the meeting that by everyone gathering on Thursday night it showed that they all wanted to work together and settle this issue before it went before a judge for him to settle it.
Maysville Mayor Richard Presley said, “We want to get to talking. We need to work this out among us.”
Lula Mayor Milton Turner agreed with Presley.
Jerry Neace, Baldwin mayor, said, “I only see two factors in this – our citizens and the economy. We need to come up with a number our citizens can live with.”
Alto Mayor Audrey Turner said, “We want to sustain our current services.”
Larry Poole, mayor of Gillsville said, “We need to come to some agreement.”
Homer Mayor Doug Cheek was not in attendance.
Commissioner Charles Turk, who presided in the absence of chairman Milton Dalton, said, “We are looking out for all 18,000 people in Banks County.”
Danny Maxwell, commissioner, said, “We are hired by the people of Banks County – all the citizens. We’ve all got to be open-minded.”
The city representatives and the county BOC broke apart several times during the negotiation process to discuss new offers.
The county made an offer of 84 percent. Turk told the city representatives, “We have got to look at debt service.”
The cities came back with a counter offer of 82.5 percent, which the county rejected. Baldwin council member Jeff Parrish said, “We need to stay focused, all the LOST goes back to the citizens.”
The county representatives then came back with an offer of 83.5 percent. Presley said, “If we take this kind of cut, we will have to cut services.”
Parrish said, “I am in favor of the 83.5 percent. , it is costing us money every time we balk.”
The city representatives met and came back with an offer to the county of 82.75 percent. Gillsville council member Jim Butler said, “You (county) will make it up in two months by not having to pay attorney fees. We are .75 percent away.”
But, the county wouldn’t accept the 82.75 percent.
Presley then made an offer on behalf of the cities for 83 percent to the county.
Turk and the other three BOC members in attendance, Maxwell, Ernest Rogers and Sammy Reece, again met and they came back with a counter offer of 83.25 percent.
When Turk announced the offer of 83.25 percent, some of the council members cheered and clapped and Bush jumped up and started hugging the county commissioners.
Each city council and the BOC will have to hold a formal vote on the proposed 83.25 percent.
Baldwin Mayor Neace called a special called meeting of his city council after the negotiation process was over and they voted unanimously to accept the proposed 83.25 percent for Banks County and 16.75 percent to be divided among the cities.
The Baldwin City Council had advertised that they would hold a special called meeting on Thursday at the Banks County Annex. The BOC approved the proposal Tuesday night.
The other cities will vote on the proposal during the upcoming weeks.
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