As the Aug. 26 deadline for local option sales tax allocation nears, the Rome-Floyd LOST Committee will be bringing the different arguments to the Floyd County and Rome City commissions for input.
Georgia counties and their respective municipalities must renegotiate their sales tax allocation every decade. In a worst case scenario, if no agreement can be reached by the deadline, the sales tax funds stay with the state.
Currently, through the agreement signed on Aug. 28, 2012, Floyd County receives 56.5% of the revenue while Rome gets 41.7% and Cave Spring gets 1.8%.
From getting outside consultants to come in and analyze data to lengthy discussions as to who provides what, Rome and Floyd County officials have failed to come to an agreement so far.
On the city’s side, officials are arguing that residents are double taxed for certain county services and the city deserves a bigger piece of the pie. Much of the argument stems from the fact that Rome has a higher daytime population and garners the most sales in the region.
However, county officials argue that they must provide certain mandated services that the city benefits from — like the Superior Court, Probate Court, the Rome-Floyd County Library and Richard B. Russell Regional Airport. The Floyd County Police Department also responds to calls for service within city limits when needed.
More recently, the elected officials that serve on the committee — Floyd County Vice Chair Allison Watters and Rome Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Cochran — met to discuss the allocation and what the municipalities need.
“I feel like we have done due diligence on both sides... and at the end of the day, Mark and I agree that we don’t want to go to arbitration. We have such a good history of working together and working things out and arbitration doesn’t make a lot of sense for us,” Watters said at a committee meeting Friday afternoon.
On behalf of the county, Watters asked the committee to keep the current distribution, citing that they can work out the service delivery issues in the future.
In response, Cochran talked to Rome Mayor Sundai Stevenson and City Manager Sammy Rich and came up with a different sales tax allocation. They’re proposing the county receives 49.1%, the city receives 49% and Cave Spring receives 1.9%.
However, county officials were quick to disagree, stating that the new allocation takes away over $1.3 million from their budget, a cut that they can’t absorb.
“We have so many mandated services that we have to provide. I just came from a meeting with 12 elected officials and I work for them,” County Manager Jamie McCord said.
Still, the city argues that most business that generates sales tax revenue takes place within the city limits.
After the two entities went back and forth with their respective points for about 20 minutes, the group agreed to take the arguments to the Rome City Commission, Floyd County Commission and Cave Spring City Council to see what they think.
Cave Spring Mayor Rob Ware is the only person on the committee who was present in 1995 for the first allocation. He said the cooperation between the city and the county governments is one of the best in the state and if certain services are separated, such as county police responding in the city, it will be very difficult long-term.
The committee will meet again on Aug. 15 at 1 p.m. in the Sam King Room at City Hall, 601 Broad St.