ALBANY, Ga. — The Dougherty County Commission met in a special called session Monday to approve a 2 percent excise tax on energy used by businesses and manufacturers in the county.
Votes by Georgia counties on the excise tax, which Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard stressed was a "continuation" of special-purpose local-option sales tax and local-option sales tax funds already being collected by the county, became necessary when the state approved 2012 legislation to phase out the 4 percent energy tax that the states collects from those businesses over the next four years.
"I'd like to reiterate that this is not a new tax on our manufacturers," District 1 Commissioner Lamar Hudgins said. "We're voting to continue collecting the local tax."
Before approving the excise tax, the county approved an intergovernmental agreement with the city of Albany through which the two government entities will continue to share revenue from the 2 percent tax collections. The city approved the same agreement at a special called meeting last Tuesday.
"What it boils down to is that we simply can't afford (not to pass the excise tax)," District 6 Commissioner Jack Stone said. "If the state had done this differently, had just lifted the 4 percent state tax, we wouldn't have to go through this.
"If we don't vote to continue these collections, (the shortfall) will have to come from somewhere. And usually that means property owners."
State law says approval of the excise taxes must come from each individual county and that division of tax revenues with municipalities located in each county is to be determined by memoranda of understanding. Dougherty Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard, responding to a question from District 4 Commissioner Ewell Lyle, said division of the excise tax money would be determined by SPLOST and LOST percentages.
The city of Albany receives 64 percent of SPLOST funds collected, but an agreement on the division of local-option sales tax funds, which is renewed every 10 years, is still undecided. The city has received 60 percent of LOST funds for the past 20 years, but is asking for a larger split of that 1 percent collection. The county wants to keep the 60-40 split, and if the two do not reach an agreement soon, a Superior Court judge will decide the matter.
Each percentage point equals $175,000 in tax funds.
"The state dictated this process," Sinyard said. "It would make sense that (the LOST split) stay the same that it's been for the past 20 years."