The city has yet to take any action on the two agreements that were proposed by the county nearly two weeks ago, though other cities in the county have already signed both agreements.
“The City of Villa Rica is currently reviewing what it’s options are regarding the proposed agreement that has been tendered to it by Carroll County,” City Attorney David Mecklin said. “The city has several options to consider, including one, to simply sign the agreement and accept it. The second option is to choose not to sign the agreement and notify the state that Villa Rica chooses to be an absent municipality from the agreement, and third the city is also reviewing whether or not there is any basis for which to challenge the proposed intergovernmental agreement that has been submitted to it by the county.”
If the city chooses to go with one of the first two options, it would receive the 7.57 percent of the LOST disbursement offered to the city by the county. Under state law, the city must receive at least its population minimum in LOST proceeds, which is 7.57 percent.
Under the third option, Mecklin explained that the city is studying the legality of the agreement and whether or not it would withstand a legal challenge.
“Under that third option, it is important to the City of Villa Rica, as well as to all the other local governments, that there is not a legal deficiency with the agreement that would allow the agreement to be attacked either now or somewhere in the future by anyone,” Mecklin said. “We want to be sure that whatever agreement is signed by all the local governments is something that will stand up because the distribution of the Local Option Sales Tax is too important to all the local governments to have it be attacked somewhere down the road because the agreement is legally insufficient.”
One contention the city has had is that in addition to the master agreement that was offered with the proposed LOST disbursement with the municipalities were supplemental agreements with several municipalities that would provide additional funding out of Carroll County’s LOST share. Villa Rica was not among those to receive a promise of additional funding beyond its 7.57 percent even though it is the second largest city in the county behind Carrollton.
Mayor J. Collins said he doesn’t know what course of action the City Council will take, but he believes the city shouldn’t sign the agreement and should take any legal action necessary to avoid the proposed agreement going into effect.
“I strongly discouraged the council from signing the agreement that was proposed to us,” Collins said. “I think there are some additional negotiations that need to be done and some concessions that can be made on the part of others to make this agreement fair and equitable, understanding that Villa Rica is willing to give up money to help some of the smaller cities but we want to be treated fairly and we want to be looked at in the same light as all the cities are. Some of the calculations I’ve looked at and done myself, we’re not receiving our fair share.”
The city hasn’t taken any action on the proposed service delivery agreement either, claiming that there had been no prior discussion or negotiations with the county on service delivery before the agreement was proposed.
“I think there are some issues the city wishes to discuss with the county to be sure that there is complete understanding on some points before they act on the service delivery agreement,” Mecklin said.
Collins said it has been very surprising to him that other cities have not wanted to negotiate service delivery more heavily.
“Since service delivery was discussed 10 years ago, and I wasn’t a part of that because I wasn’t in office, case law has been established in Gwinnett County that allows special tax districts to be set up that gives cities credit for the services they provide to their residents that the county does not,” Collins said. “I think that should be considered in Carroll County to avoid double taxation for services the city is providing. There are several services the cities provide that the county doesn’t provide and those cities should be given credit for those services their providing.
“It bothers me that you don’t have officials from other cities stepping up to the plate to take up for their respective residents and do what’s fair and equitable. I would plead with other council members who represent citizens in other cities to step back and look at it because it’s beneficial to everybody, not just city residents. You get what you pay for and you pay for what you get.”