The City of Griffin and Spalding County officials met Monday to work out a split, agreeing, subject to approval by the respective commissions, to a 50/50 split on the final third of any excess revenue beyond what was taken in for the same month in 2012, when and if there is any excess. Final approval will go to both boards as an intergovernmental agreement, with an initial term of five years.
According to the legislation creating the title ad valorem tax or TAVT, proceeds first go to offset shortfalls in revenue, based on previous year’s totals and will be determined monthly based on previous year’s collections for that month. When there are insufficient funds to make up the difference each month, proceeds from the following month with first to pay for the previous month.
City Commissioner Ryan McLemore said “this thing is going to be the hole that never gets filled,” that there will always be a shortfall.
McLemore, who works in the school system’s finance department, said, “Everyone is dipping into the school system’s pocket on this one,” describing the title ad velorem tax. “Basically the state just pilfered the ELOST, LOST and SPLOST.”
If there’s any excess, the first third goes to the local school system and the second third goes to the city and county, based on the already agreed-upon Local Option Sales Tax split, currently 59.5 percent county and 40.5 percent city.
The last third of any excess could be divided by population, by the existing LOST split or under the terms specified in an intergovernmental agreement. This is what the city and county officials negotiated Monday.
The City of Griffin representatives included McLemore, City Manager Kenny Smith, City Attorney Drew Whalen and City Administrative Services Director Markus Schwab. The county representatives included Commissioner Raymond Ray, County Manager William Wilson Jr., County Attorney Jim Fortune and County Finance Director Jinna Garrison. County Commissioner Rita Johnson had volunteered to be a part of the negotiations, but was unable to attend Monday’s meeting.
Several different splits were proposed, including population, 63 percent county and 37 percent city; the current LOST split, 59.5 percent county and 40.5 percent city; the number of vehicles registered in the city and the county, which was estimated even more in favor of the county than population; 70 percent city, 30 percent county, by the city; and 100 percent county, by the county, since everyone is in the county.
Smith proposed a 50/50 split, since that’s how the city and county divide up costs. McLemore proposed splitting the difference between the LOST split and 50/50 or 45 city, 55 county.
Ray agreed to 50/50, saying he didn’t see anyone getting any of it, since it’s excess after covering shortfalls.
“We all lose on this,” Ray said, noting the loss in sales tax revenue from motor vehicle sales, with Smith adding, “but not as bad as the Board of Education.”
McLemore said, “If there’s excess, the city and county gain; if not, all three lose.”
Fortune speculated the law would be changed by the General Assembly. “It’s not going to stay like this.”
Whalen will be drawing up the intergovernmental agreement between the city and county. Wilson emphasized the agreement “is arbitrary and with no bearing on future negotiations on LOST, SPLOST or service delivery.”