Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said the county will not approve a 2013 budget until after the LOST (local option sales tax) negotiations with Walker County’s cities are complete.
The county and cities have been at an impasse for more than a month, with three of the four Walker County cities angling to receive a greater percentage of the sales tax revenue stream over the upcoming ten years.
Heiskell maintains that the county needs the same 80 percent share it has received for the past 20 years in order to maintain the same level of services to Walker County citizens; otherwise, a new and drastically trimmed budget will be necessary.
Negotiations have come to such a standstill and are so far behind the original cutoff date of Aug. 29 that a professional mediator – Norman Fletcher of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government – has been chosen to decide between the two opposing sides.
On Thursday, Nov. 1, Heiskell said she has not yet nailed down a meeting date with Fletcher and city representatives.
“We’re not going to meet until after the election (on Nov. 6),” she said. “We’re all just too busy.”
In the meantime, Walker County has been operating on the 2012 budget and will continue to do so until after the LOST negotiations are complete.