The council, in an Oct. 7 meeting, voted 4-1 to request 19 percent of LOST funds in 2004 and 21 percent in 2005.
Councilman Harold Silcox voted against, saying the city should also seek a LOST increase in 2003.
In essence, the city is asking for one percent more in 2004 than offered by the county. In addition a list of other items not related to LOST were included in the request:
- 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.
County Commissioner Mark Fletcher said some of the city’s request could be granted, but not all.
“It appears they are asking for more than we can give,” he said. “I want the city of Fort Oglethorpe to have the same considerations as the rest of the county. To give them any more, we would have to raise taxes for everybody.
“They are adding other things that need to be in separate negotiations,” he said.
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.
Using growth as a means to fund the increases, both cities would increase in 2004 by one percent and in 2005 by two percent. There would be no increase in 2003.
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.
According to county attorney Patty, an agreement must be in place by Dec. 30 or Catoosa will lose its LOST funding.
If the three governments lose LOST funding, then county taxpayers will have to pay more.
The Board of Commissioners gave Fort Oglethorpe until Oct. 8 to approve the county’s offer. Since the city did not approve, mediation is probably the next step.
Mediation is non-binding, and none of the governments is required to follow the mediator’s suggestions.
County Attorney Clifton “Skip” Patty said a third party mediator would be an additional cost to all three governments.
Catoosa County was expected to make a decision Oct. 12 on Fort Oglethorpe’s proposal.
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.
Tax Commissioner Sandra Self said that on a property valued at $100,000 a taxpayer would pay $150.64 at the current millage rate of 3.766. Without LOST funds to offset property taxes, taxpayers would pay $355.28. These figures reflect only the county’s portion of LOST distributions and not state, school or city taxes