Those attending a Local Option Sales & Use Tax (LOST) renegotiation meeting held on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, did not reach an agreement on the allocation of LOST funds for the next ten years. Although the meeting was in the informal renegotiation phase, no agreement could be reached among those present on the percentages that would go to Cobbtown, Collins, Reidsville, Glennville, and the County.
Glennville Mayor Bernie Weaver, Council Member CPA Tammy Waters, and City Manager Stan Dansby said they were most concerned about how Glennville’s accurate population figure was not used in the review of possible distribution methods, that of Percentage of Population.
In the “Review of Possible Distribution Methods,” in the Percentage of Population (2020 Census), Glennville’s 2020 Census population number was printed as 3,834, when in actuality it is 5,334. The number of 1,500 inmates of Smith State Prison was to have been included, since this was omitted from the original population count. The City of Glennville has appealed this to the Census Bureau, and it is just a matter of time before the correct population number of 5,334 is released.
The City of Glennville contends that this correct population number should have been listed on the Review of Possible Distribution Methods-Percentage of Population (2020 Census), even though County Manager Frank Murphy verbally acknowledged in the meeting that the County was not disputing this figure of 5,334. However, this changes the proposed distribution of funds if the Percentage of Population method is used.
Other methods of possible distribution of LOST funds are Total Value of Service Provided by Local Government from Property Taxes and LOST (By current year roll-back rates). Another option is Individual Digest Values (2022 Digest): After Exemptions, 40 percent of value, and percentage of total. These two methods provide the cities with a lower percentage of distribution of LOST funds.
With the incorrect population for Glennville, the County’s distribution was given as 68 percent, and all the cities with a lower percentage, also.
Representatives from each of the cities, with the exception of Cobbtown, had met the previous day (Tuesday, July 19), to discuss the distribution of funds. City of Glennville Mayor Bernie Weaver had also sent a letter dated July 15, 2022, that proposes a distribution of LOST proceeds based on population, which would be as follows: County, 64.14 percent; Glennville, 21.91 percent; Reidsville, 10.33 percent; Collins, 2.22 percent; and Cobbtown, 1.40 percent.
The letter also states that the City of Glennville is in agreement with the County’s proposal to continue the Fire Services intergovernmental agreement and the Recreation intergovernmental agreement with the new calculated figures provided, as are the other cities in Tattnall.
The letter further states: “However, the City of Glennville does not agree that the County provides a fair amount of services based on the amount of property taxes levied on the property located in Glennville. In 2021, the County levied $6,001,785.78 in property taxes; $1,177,108.75 or 19.6 percent of the tax came from property located inside the city limits of Glennville. The City understands that the County provides certain services to the citizens of the incorporated areas but most of these services have a fee in excess of the property taxes that are paid annually by the citizens and in reference to a service that doesn’t have an associated fee, (which is) road maintenance, the County provides minimal maintenance to the roads and streets inside the City of Glennville.”
This distribution by population, correct numbers, would also give all the cities higher amounts than any other method used, but would lessen the County’s portion to 64.14 percent instead of what County Manager Murphy has given as 68 percent, with the incorrect number for Glennville.
No decision was reached, and Mayor Weaver asked that a representative from the Altamaha Regional Commission be contacted for the mediation of the LOST funds, if it comes to that. However, County Attorney Tom Peterson, who was requested to be present at the July 20 meeting, commented that he was familiar with two attorneys who had experience on both the city and county levels, and one of those a former State Representative, who may be willing to serve as the mediator.
The group meeting did not formally make the decision to go into mediation. At this point, they are still working to avoid this. If they do, the group will have to agree on who mediates.
The cost of mediating was also not confirmed on who would pay for these services. Another meeting date for the LOST renegotiations was not set.
Those in attendance at the meeting were as follows: Tattnall County Commission Chairman Jackie Trim, Tattnall County Commissioner (District 5) Bill Kicklighter, Tattnall County Manager Frank Murphy, Tattnall County Clerk Sheila Mills, City of Reidsville Mayor Curtis Colwell, Reidsville Council Member Carolyn Blackshear, Reidsville City Clerk Nivea Jackson, City of Collins Mayor Pro Tem Sandra Spikes, Cobbtown Mayor James R. Collins, Cobbtown City Clerk Francine Jarriel, Glennville Mayor Bernie Weaver, Glennville Council member Tammy Waters, Glennville City Manager Stan Dansby, Glennville City Clerk Emily Mixon, and Pam Waters of The Journal Sentinel.