Mayor Cecil Moncrief updated the Yatesville City Council Monday night on the latest chapter of the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) negotiations between Upson County, the City of Thomaston, and the City of Yatesville. And he didn’t mince words doing so.
“The LOST negotiations are going to court. I don’t know when,” said Moncrief. “I’ll be honest with you, and I don’t care if you put this in the newspaper. I’m tired of this penny ante crap. This has gotten to be ridiculous. All this is doing is costing us more money. I’m about ready to tell the state, just mail the check every month to the tax commissioners, and when our taxes are due, just deduct it off the tax notices, and that’s it. Everybody gets it. But this thing about fighting about who is going to get a penny is just ridiculous.”
The LOST negotiations began in July between Upson County, the City of Thomaston, and the City of Yatesville. Since the one cent LOST began in 1981, the split between the three governments has been 55 percent for the county, 43 percent for Thomaston, and 2 percent for Yatesville. But when negotiations on LOST and service delivery between the county and Thomaston failed, state law mandated that a mediator be brought in. An attorney from Macon attempted to broker an agreement, but against to no avail. The final step in the state mandated process is to send the issue to a Superior Court judge in another judicial circuit for a final decision on how the LOST revenue will be divided.
In response to a question about the cost of the mediator to Yatesville, Mayor Moncrief explained that the way it was told to him, the cost of the mediator, which was $150 a hour, will be split the same percentages that the current LOST is split – 55 percent for the county, 43 percent for Thomaston and 2 percent for Yatesville.
While Upson County and Thomaston representatives have agreed that Yatesville should continue to receive 2 percent of the LOST, Moncrief said with the issue going to a judge, there is no telling what the small community could receive.
“I went by (county attorney) Ed Trice’s office Friday and picked up a copy of the paper he had to file with the judge,” said Moncrief. “I need to go by and talk with him and see where it goes from there. We may get 2 percent; we may get 1 percent; we may get nothing, I don’t know. “
He went on to reiterate his feelings on the issue.
“It is ridiculous. It has caused a lot of friction in this county. A lot friction between the city and the county, and it is unnecessary, in my opinion. But I’m just one person. I see a lot of politics being played in it. I hear a lot of people from the county and the city both are just fed up with it all the way around.
“I don’t mind telling you, if you pray, you need to pray about this thing,” added Moncrief. “We get 2 percent, which we get about $60,000 a year out of the LOST. The total intake is around $3 million. So we get $60,000, and I’ve been asked, how would we do if we went to 1 percent, and that may be something we have to look into. But we’ll see.
“But this much I do know – by December 31 it has to be decided, or we won’t get a penny. You will have this in place on December 31, or you can forget it for however many years this thing lasts. I’m going to tell you what, if this thing isn’t settled, Thomaston and Upson County and Yatesville will be hurting 10 years down the road. But we are going to court. What our role in it will be, I do not know.”