Catoosa County sent a new distribution offer for local-options sales taxes (LOST) back to Fort Oglethorpe with a 4-1 vote Nov. 18.
Commissioner Mark Fletcher, who made the motion, suggested the newest offer giving the city no increase in 2003, .05 percent in 2004 and a 2.97 percent increase in 2005.
“This will bring them up to the 20.47 percent suggested by RDC (Coosa Valley Regional Development Center),” Fletcher said.
Commissioner Pat Page was against the new formula.
“I think we should stick with the one percent in 2004,” she said. “We are giving away too much at one time. What if growth is seven percent and we give Fort Oglethorpe three percent and Ringgold three percent? What are we going to do then?”
Commissioner Burk Hale seconded.
Mayor Judd Burkhart said Nov. 20 that he did not believe the new offer would fly with the Fort Oglethorpe City Council.
“They are offering us something four years from now that we should be getting today,” he said, referring to the 20.47 percent suggested by RDC.
Ringgold officials have previously said that they will strive to make sure the city receives its fair share of the LOST funding, and if Fort Oglethorpe gets a percentage increase, Ringgold should, too.
Members of the Catoosa Board of Commissioners and Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold city councils first met at The Colonnade Sept. 24 to discuss LOST distributions.
Commissioners offered to raise LOST percentage distributions to the two cities incrementally over the next three years.
The plan would have brought both cities almost in line with Coosa Valley Regional Development Center’s suggestions that Fort Oglethorpe should receive 20.47 percent of LOST taxes, while Ringgold should get 8.25 percent and the county 71.27 percent.
Catoosa County Board of Commissioners previously voted unanimously to not accept Fort Oglethorpe City Council’s request for 19 percent of LOST funds in 2004 and 21 percent in 2005 and return to the table with its last offer.
The last offer uses growth as a means to fund the increases; both Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold would increase in 2004 by one percent and in 2005 by two percent. There would be no increase in 2003.
Fort Oglethorpe’s last offer
In addition to the one percent more in 2004 than offered by the county, Fort Oglethorpe requested a list of other items not related to LOST:
* Fort Oglethorpe requests that Catoosa County take over the city’s 911 dispatch center at no cost to the city.
* Fort Oglethorpe requests the county turn over the title to a fire ladder truck at Station 1.
* Fort Oglethorpe requests the county give a quit claim deed for utility property on Alamar Street to the city.
* Fort Oglethorpe requests the next list of projects for five-year cycle of SPLOST, special-purpose local-option sales tax, contain $2 million to pay off the Chickamauga Creek interceptor.
* Fort Oglethorpe is asking the county to spend $8 million in SPLOST funds in the Chickamauga sewerage basin to hook up new residents.
Commissioner Pat Page said if county commissioners and Fort Oglethorpe officials had a work session, she believes there are a couple of things on the list the two governments could talk about.
“The ladder truck was bought with SPLOST, (special-purpose local-option sales tax) money and we could not give it away if we wanted to,” she said. “The last thing actually dealt with a SPLOST negotiation and not a LOST negotiation. It does not need to be in the LOST agreement.”
What is LOST?
LOST is used for different purposes than special-purpose local-option sales tax, or SPLOST, and educational special-purpose local-option sales tax, or ESPLOST.
LOST provides the county funding to roll back property, or ad valorem, taxes by generating revenues from sales tax.
Funds collected are then divided by the state on an agreed percentage basis to the county, Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold.
Ringgold City Manager Dan Wright estimated that LOST collections for the county and two cities in 2002 totaled $6.8 million.
County attorney Patty said that currently Fort Oglethorpe receives 17 percent or $1.1 million; Ringgold receives 6 percent or $400,000; and the county gets 77 percent or $5.18 million. Distribution is based on population, he said.
A look at LOST distribution negotiations…August, 2002: Catoosa County Board of Commissioners makes initial offer to cities sug-gesting that LOST, local-option sales-tax, distributions remain the same. Currently, Fort Oglethorpe receives 17 percent or $1.1 million; Ringgold receives 6 percent or $400,000; and the county gets 77 percent or $5.18 million.
Sept. 24: With no response from city officials, commissioners make another offer — both Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold would increase by one percent in 2004 and two percent in 2005, with no increase in 2003.
Oct. 7: Fort Oglethorpe counters and asks the county for an additional one percent in 2004, along with a long list of other non-LOST requests.
Oct. 15: Commissioners vote against Fort Oglethorpe’s offer and return with Sept. 24 offer again.
Nov. 18: Commissioners make new offer giving the cities no increase in 2003, a half percent in 2004 and a 2.97 percent increase in 2005.
Dec. 30: If no distribution agreement is in place, Catoosa County and the cities will lose LOST funding