County Sends SPLOST VII Counter Offer to City – Sets Friday Morning Deadline

The City of Toccoa has until Friday morning to accept or reject the County’s latest offer regarding how the next Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue will be divided.

In a letter issued to the City by the County late Tuesday afternoon, the County is offering a 68% – 32% split on an expected SPLOST VII revenue of $20.2 million over a six-year period, based on an anticipated 1% increase in revenue annually.

However, this latest offer comes with two conditions.

According to the letter obtained by WNEG News late Tuesday (click on the link below to view the entire counter offer letter), the County said they will agree to the 68/32 split if the City agrees to lower rates for county water customers to the same level as city water customers.

They also want the City to re-imburse the County for the $55,150 they paid contractor Haywood Baker to move a city water line in connection with the W. Currahee slope stabilization project.

The City had refused to pay the contractor for the extra work to move the water line stating they had agreed to give the County $175,000 for the overall project and no more.

City Commissioners are asking for $9-million in SPLOST VII revenue to fund a number of large projects, most notably, the renovation and upgrading of the Toccoa Water/Wastewater facility.

They are basing that figure on a 61% to 39% split of an expected $23.3-million in SPLOST VII revenue over a six-year period with a 3% increase in revenue annually.

In a letter last week to the County, City Commissioners and Mayor Gail Fry canceled a planned second round of talks with the County set for this past Monday stating they were holding firm to the $9-million request.

The County responded with a letter of their own stating the City had until 10a Tuesday to respond to a 70/30 split.

On Monday, County Administrator Phylis Ayers told WNEG News the County prefers to err on the side of caution and continue using the 70% – 30% split based on an expected revenue of $20.2-million with a 1% increase in revenue annually.

“We’ve been looking at a more conservative number. Billy (Morse) has those numbers, a 1% increase annually and a 3% increase annually,” Ayers explained. “So each of those come up differently. But we are looking at the more realistic number and are wanting a 70/30 split. We are not asking for anything more than what we had in the last SPLOST. At a 70/30 split they would get more like $6-million.”

In the Tuesday letter, Ayers did not say how much a 68/32 split would give the City.

However, the letter stated that if the City does not agree to the terms of new offer, the County will move ahead with the 70/30 split as originally planned in order to meet the required deadlines.

If no Intergovernmental Agreement is reached before July 23, by law SPLOST VII will become a five-year revenue distribution to the County and the cities of Avalon and Martin, instead of a six-year distribution that includes the City of Toccoa.

According to Ayers, copies of the SPLOST VII project list and distribution break down must be sent to the Georgia Department of Revenue no later than August 6.

SPLOST VII Counter July 9, 2019