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City, county reach LOST accord
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Dawsonville and Dawson County officials met last Tuesday to approve a split of the revenue generated by the 1-cent local option sales tax, or LOST.

Through the agreement, the funds will be divided at 88 percent for the county and 12 percent for the city.

"They always tell you that as long as everybody's giving a little bit, everybody wins, and I think that's what happened in this case. Everybody gained a little bit and everybody won," said Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan.

The funds, which are renegotiated every 10 years following the U.S. Census, are intended to ease local governments' reliance on property taxes to operate.

The current split divvies 86 percent of the revenue to the county and 14 percent to the city.

In 2011, the tax brought in about $5.2 million for the county's general fund, and is expected to pull in about $5.5 million, or 27 percent, of the county's general fund budget this year.

The tax is separate from the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, that was extended in 2007.

SPLOST revenue must be approved by voters in a referendum and can be used only for designated projects.

The lengthy negotiation process began in mid-May with a letter from the county to the city requesting an informal meeting to commence the negotiations.

When an agreement could not be reached, the two entities entered mediation. They later suspended the proceedings to work out the negotiations on their own.

Commission Chair Mike Berg said the ability to reach an agreement without taking the matter to court says a lot about the city and county's ability to work together.

"There are a lot of counties and cities in the state today that are not where we are," he said. "They're still battling back and forth and will probably go to court because they won't be able to reach an agreement.

"I would think that we did the citizens proud by the negotiation that we did and the results that came out of it."

After last week's joint meeting at the Dawsonville Municipal Complex, Grogan and Berg signed the agreement, which will run from Jan. 1, 2013 through Dec. 31, 2022.

The deal was approved by the separate government bodies, with both votes unanimous, though County Commissioner Gary Pichon was not present.