After many months of disagreements, negotiations and mediation between Upson County and the City of Thomaston, the issue of the LOST (Local Option Sales Tax) percentages will be settled in a court of law. Board of Commission Chairman Maurice Raines announced at Tuesday’s BOC meeting that mediation between the governing bodies was over with no agreement being reached, therefore a Superior Court Judge from outside the Griffin Judicial Circuit will make the final decision.
According to County Attorney Ed Trice, after an appeal is filed, the court system will select a judge from outside the circuit to make the decision. The appointed judge will also decide if there will be a hearing or written submissions of the two proposals. His thoughts are that the decision should be made somewhere in the next 60-90 days, but no specific date is known at this time.
Raines acknowledged that the current split of the LOST percentage (55% Upson County, 43% City of Thomaston, and 2% City of Yatesville) has been the same for the last 31 years; however he also noted that many things have changed within that time period.
“I want to tell this community that I do respect the city, the mayor and everyone on the city council for representing their constituency. I do want to say to all citizens that this board’s only interest is to do what is best for everyone regardless if you live in the City of Thomaston, City of Yatesville or County of Upson. I think the city has a right to stand on their convictions, just like the county has a right to stand on ours and that is what we are going to do,” said Raines.
“This Board of Commissioners is mandated by law to provide services and the only way we can provide services is through sales tax and through property tax,” he continued. “I want to reassure this community that we are acting in the best interest of the entire county.”
Raines previously offered an apology to the citizens of the community during a town hall meeting last week and reiterated the statement during Tuesday’s meeting.
“I want to apologize to the citizens of this community for enduring the negativity that you have heard over the last couple of months during these negotiations. I apologize for all the smoke screen and unanswered questions you may have had as a citizen of this community, but I want you to know, on behalf of this board, we are through with all of that stuff. From this point on, this board is going to let a judge figure out what is best for this community and we are going to live with whatever the judge decides.”