The City of Thomaston released the following statement on the LOST negotiations on November 21, 2012:
The City of Thomaston has again offered to settle with the County regarding the division of local option sales tax (LOST) proceeds among the governments of Upson County, the City of Thomaston, and the City of Yatesville. In a letter dated November 20, 2012 to the County’s attorney, City Attorney Joel Bentley advised the County that the City would accept the County’s original July/August proposal for division of the proceeds, with negotiations to begin immediately regarding service delivery and funding.
At a joint meeting of the City and County in July 2012, Upson County government representatives proposed that the sales tax proceeds be divided among the governments as they had in the past, with the County receiving 55 percent of the funds, Thomaston receiving 43 percent, and Yatesville receiving 2 percent. The discussion of how service delivery in the three governments would be accomplished would still be subject to negotiation. After receiving this proposal in writing from the County Attorney, the City agreed to the proposal on August 7, 2012, only to have the County disavow its own proposal and refuse to approve it at an August 14 meeting. The County communicated its decision to the City on August 21.
The County filed for arbitration against the City on November 2, 2012, stating that the parties were unable to reach an agreement. Under Georgia law, the case will be heard by a judge from outside the Griffin Judicial Circuit.
Thomaston Mayor Hays Arnold said, “The City would like to see this issue resolved so that there is no interruption or confusion in services to both City and County residents. The sooner we can divide up the responsibilities, the sooner we can allocate resources and manpower to the needed services. For us to argue and debate and litigate over the percentage breakdown costs the taxpayers’ money, and these delays make planning more difficult and less efficient. It has taken a lot of trouble and time already to get to exactly where we thought we were in July—yet we still aren’t there.”
According to City Attorney Bentley, awaiting the outcome of arbitration could be time consuming, because the Griffin Judicial Circuit will have to secure a judge from outside the circuit to hear the case. “When that would happen is not clear,” said Mr. Bentley.