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Agreements reached on tax, water

Board, city council approve results of mediation

POSTED: October 26, 2012 1:22 p.m.
 

Forsyth County and the city of Cumming joined together Friday morning to resolve some longstanding disputes.

Both governments approved agreements on a new water contract and a split of the local option sales tax, or LOST, both of which would have hit deadlines in a few days.

The city council unanimously approved both agreements.

The county commissioners voted 4-1, with Todd Levent opposed, to approve the LOST agreement, and 4-0, with Pete Amos recused, to approve the water contract.

Levent didn’t give a reason for his vote during the meeting. Amos, owner of a company that resells water in the county, has recused himself on water contract votes.

County and city entered mediation on both issues nearly two weeks ago, intended to finalize an informal water contract deal reached in late May as the previous one expired and to meet the state required process for determining a sales tax split.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said in the joint meeting Friday that the mediator, former Georgia Chief Justice Norman Fletcher, said the county was receiving “a great deal from the city” on both agreements.

“This has been a long, drawn-out process,” Gravitt said. “I think the role of leadership by these two boards is having the ability to compromise, and certainly I appreciate we both have compromised. What’s in the best interest of Cumming, Georgia, is also in the best interest of Forsyth County.”

He asked the two sides to put “any hard feelings” behind them and move forward.

Forsyth County Commission Chairman Jim Boff said on the LOST split, each side had found information to justify “markedly different” percentages.

“This is simply the best way to take the unknowable elements out of the decision,” Boff said of the deal.

For the first five years of the 10-year sales tax, Forsyth County and Cumming will maintain the current split in which the county receives 85 percent of the collections and the city 15 percent.

From 2018 to 2022, the split will change to 87 percent and 13 percent, according to the agreement.

The water contract will also run for 10 years, with a 10-year option to renew if triggered by Forsyth County.

In the new agreement, the county must buy 400 million gallons of treated water per year from the city at a cost of $2.43 per 1,000 gallons, which will be adjusted each year to the consumer price index.

The amount of the required purchase decreased from about 1.6 billion gallons per year, but the rate is the same as the start of 2012 in the previous agreement.

For untreated water, the county will pay 50 cents per 1,000 gallons for purchases within or above its permitted amount, which will be adjusted annually to the consumer price index.

For more on the story, see Sunday's Forsyth County News or check back for updates at www.forsythnews.com.

 

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