Attorneys for Cumming and Forsyth County are pressing ahead with negotiations on a new water contract and an agreement on how to share local option sales tax revenue.
Neither Dana Miles, the city attorney, nor his county counterpart, Ken Jarrard, would comment on specifics of the governments’ mediation sessions, which were held Monday and Tuesday in Cumming.
Miles did say, however, that both sides are continuing in those efforts.
“We’re working toward a resolution and the mediation is ongoing,” he said Tuesday night after the Cumming City Council meeting.
“Mr. Jarrard and I and the judge and the parties will continue working until we either reach a completed mediation agreement or until we reach an impasse, and we’re not at either yet.”
Jarrard offered a similar position Wednesday.
“The city-county formal mediation sessions are completed, but the mediation process remains ongoing and the mediator has not released the parties,” Jarrard said.
“Therefore, though the process remains confidential, I can state that both the city and county are continuing to work together in good faith and the mediator is on standby to assist when and if needed.”
The LOST split between the two governments was scheduled to be the focus of the mediation session Monday. On Tuesday, officials were to take up the water contract dispute.
Both talks were mediated by former Georgia Chief Justice Norman Fletcher, whose fee will be shared in an amount determined the parties.
Attorneys had deemed the sessions exempt from the open meetings act, so both were held behind closed doors.
However, no potential agreements are binding until approved in open meetings by both parties.
The LOST issue centers on how to divide the 1-percent sales tax revenue, which currently goes 85 percent to the county and 15 percent to the city.
The tax is designed to roll back property taxes, and stays in place for 10-year periods if a county and its cities agree to have it and set the revenue division. The lone city in Forsyth County is Cumming.
The tax split, which is based primarily on services provided, must be negotiated by year’s end.
State laws set requirements for the process, and Forsyth and Cumming did not meet the August deadline for direct renegotiation and therefore entered the mediation phase.
The water dispute revolves involves finalizing details of an informal agreement reached in the spring for a city-county water contract.
Forsyth has a permit allocation from the Georgia Environmental Protection, but no way to draw water from Lake Lanier.
As a result, it purchases most of its untreated as well as some treated water from Cumming.
Unless a deal is reached, Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt has directed that sales of untreated water to the county will stop on Oct. 31.
The county would still be able to buy treated water at a higher rate to provide its customers.
Staff writer Jennifer Sami contributed to this report.