Toccoa Approves LOST Distribution Agreement

Toccoa City Commissioners sign off on a new Local Option Sales Tax distribution agreement.

Monday, the city commission unanimously approved the new agreement for dividing proceeds from the one-cent sales tax between the city, Stephens County, and Martin.

Under the agreement approved by the city, Stephens County would receive 63.51 percent of the Local Option Sales Tax distribution, while the city of Toccoa would receive 35.26 percent and the town of Martin would receive 1.23 percent for the next 10 years. These percentages remain the same from the previous 10-year agreement.

Those percentages were based on population.

However, Toccoa Mayor David Austin said that since the last LOST negotiation, the State Legislature said that factors other than population could be taken into account when distributing LOST revenue.

He said taking that into account; the city and county started this negotiation fairly far apart.

“Within our county, 95 percent of the money that is generated is generated inside the city limits of Toccoa,” said Austin. “That is where all of the business is. That is one of the criteria we looked at, along with others, that told us that we (the city) felt like we should get more than our current split. The county was just as adamant that they wanted 75 percent, which means we would go down to 25 percent, and that just was not a workable thing.”

Austin said that the two sides eventually agreed leaving everything as is would be best for everybody.

According to Toccoa City Manager Mike Jackson, this agreement followed 60 days of negotiation and 30 days of mediation.

Jackson went on to say that he also feels it is the fairest agreement that could be reached.

“I am reminded of a mentor of mine early in my career who told me when you are involved in an important negotiation, sometimes the best outcome is one in which all of the participants are a little disappointed,” said Jackson. “I think we found that place.”

LOST revenues go into the general fund to support the general operating revenues of the city.

Stephens County’s and Martin’s commissions must also approve the agreement. The agreement is on the agenda for today’s Stephens County Commission meeting.