In a Sept. 4 meeting of the Gordon County Board of Commissioners, representatives from all municipalities in Gordon were invited to attend to discuss keeping or eliminating the tax.
Currently, in Gordon County and the state, an energy sales tax, charges manufacturers a seven percent sales tax, unlike many surrounding states in the nation.
Of the seven percent, the state is eliminating all but one percent of the tax, which funds public education. The remaining six percent was divided, four percent to the state and two percent to individual counties.
Gordon County is now in a position to either keep the two percent or eliminate the tax altogether and so far, the county and municipalities in Gordon are leaning towards keeping the tax.
Additionally, if the county keeps the two percent tax, it will act as the collective body and ultimately be responsible for distribution among the cities, according to Gordon County Administrator Randy Dowling.
“We have become a collection agency for our two percent local energy tax. Now the state is out of the picture and we have to go and tell the energy providers to charge their customers two percent every month, and we have to get checks every month from electric providers, then we have to go and collect it, but we have to turn around every month and give the cities their portion,” said Dowling.
If municipalities choose to keep the tax, it can be eliminated at any time, according to Calhoun City Mayor Jimmy Palmer.
“From a personal standpoint I would like to see some numbers before we move forward with the tax,” said Palmer. “If we do the excise tax it can be terminated at any time. Until we know the numbers it makes it hard to do so at this time.”
The two percent belonging to each municipality will be split, one percent according to the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) distribution formula, and one percent according to the Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) distribution formula, which in Gordon County is distributed on population.
Many counties, including Gordon, are skeptical to eliminate the tax due to the uncertainty of possible losses or gains.
“Nobody knows how much this two percent is worth, nobody has that information. It is private information,” said Dowling. “We don’t know how much we are going to reap, and if we don’t do this we don’t know how much we stand to lose either.”
Dowling assures citizens that taxes are not in fact being increased and that the county is keeping something it has always collected.
The next step will be to attain intergovernmental agreements between the county and municipalities before Dec. 2012.