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Next step taken on local levy
Split to follow previous agreements
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Forsyth County News

Other action

Also during their work session Tuesday, Forsyth County commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the following:

• A resolution that would extend for 120 days the county’s service delivery strategy agreement with the city of Cumming. The current arrangement expires Oct. 31.

The document is being revised in conjunction with the renegotiation of the local option sales tax, or LOST, which the two governments will discuss in mediation on Monday.

The extension, which needs approval by the city to become effective, is designed to allow more time to work out an agreement.

• A policy for putting money in the new capital reserve fund.

The account will be budgeted for each year by taking half of the money above the county’s minimum reserve fund policy, which is 25 percent of the total annual budget.

• A 2013 Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic grant from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for $69,800, with a required match of $104,800.

The funding offsets the costs of the sheriff’s office three-person HEAT unit.

-- Alyssa LaRenzie

Forsyth County commissioners moved forward Tuesday with plans to collect locally an excise tax on energy that the state will exempt.

State legislators passed a law earlier this year that would start a four-year process toward discontinuing the sales tax on energy charged to manufacturing businesses.

The provision was part of larger changes to the tax code and was meant to make the state more attractive to manufacturers.

Along with the state portion of the tax, the law eliminated the two 1 percent sales taxes local governments collect as part of the local option sales tax, which reduces reliance on property taxes, and the special purpose local option sales tax, which funds special voter-approved projects.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the law also gave local governments the ability to continue collecting the sales tax by following certain steps.

In following that procedure, the county and city of Cumming held a joint meeting to discuss the tax in September.

On Tuesday, commissioners voted 5-0 to approve an intergovernmental agreement that is the next step toward locally levying the energy tax.

“This wouldn’t be the actual imposition of the tax,” Jarrard said. “This is an IGA that sets the stage for us to later adopt an ordinance implementing the tax that would become effective next year.”

If the city also signs off on the agreement and adopts its own ordinance, the sales tax would continue to be collected and divided according to the LOST and SPLOST percentage splits, he said.

The law states that half of the proceeds of the energy tax will follow the agreed upon LOST split and the other half, the SPLOST split, Jarrard said.

The current LOST agreement gives 85 percent to the county and 15 percent to the city, while the current sixth SPLOST grants 95.71 percent to Forsyth and 4.29 percent to Cumming.

Working with local electric providers, county finance director David Gruen estimated the impact of the tax at more than $400,000 in electricity costs alone, not including gas.

The impact to the next round of SPLOST, which will primarily fund a new courthouse and jail expansion, could be more than $1 million less if the tax isn’t reinstated locally, Gruen said.

It appears most local governments are poised to continue the excise tax after receiving similar estimates from utility companies, he said.