City officials have rejected a proposed intergovernmental agreement between Dawson County and the city of Dawsonville, voting on Friday to move forward with a lawsuit over the county’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, SPLOST VII.
After unanimously voting to pause legal action over SPLOST VII earlier this week, the Dawsonville City Council convened for a third time on Friday, April 2, and voted 2 to 1, with Council Member Caleb Phillips absent, to move forward with a civil action lawsuit against Dawson County.
City officials contend that SPLOST VII, which was approved by voters in a special election earlier this year, is illegal, citing interpretations of the laws that govern SPLOST collections and alleging that the two governments must have an IGA for the tax to be collected over a 6-year period.
Dawson County Attorney Angela Davis previously told the Dawson County News that the county denies these allegations, and said on Friday that the county would be releasing a statement on the situation later in the day.
At the meeting on Friday, Dawsonville Mayor Mike Eason said they had received a proposed IGA from Dawson County during the last week, but that the agreement did not contain items that the city wanted.
“We’ve met with them and tried to resolve this; our attorneys have communicated back and forth and it’s not even close to exactly what we thought we might get back,” Eason said. “We wanna try to resolve this matter as soon as we can and we’d like to resolve it amicably, but it doesn’t appear that the county wishes to work with us in this matter.”
City officials have refused to comment on what the proposed IGA contained, but the DCN has filed open records requests with both parties to obtain a copy of the IGA documents.
Council Member Steve Tolson voiced his support for the lawsuit, citing Tallant’s previous allegations that without an IGA a six-year SPLOST VII collection period is illegal.
“I believe that our constituents want to do what’s right, I simply cannot in good conscience accept an illegal taxation of our citizens,” Tolson said. “My ethical and moral compass guides me to work a little bit harder to get what the citizens deserve, and it sounds like the only way at this point we can do that is to move forward with filing the action.”
Before casting his dissenting vote on the issue, Council Member Mark French voiced his disagreement with the rest of the board, stating that if the city signed the county’s proposed IGA then the six-year SPLOST would be legal and taking the matter to court could be avoided.
“We’ve had the option to resolve the matter and now the council, it appears, is choosing to proceed down a rather lengthy and potentially expensive legal process,” French said. “I just see no ends to it.”
French made a motion to accept the county’s proposal and forgo any further legal action, but the motion died for lack of a second. Council members instead voted 2 to 1 to move ahead with the lawsuit.
This story will be updated.