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Fulton leaders refuse cities' transparency efforts on sales tax talks

September 23, 2022

The 15 cities of Fulton County this morning presented its plan for renewing the Local Option Sales Tax for the next 10 years in open session while county officials argued its case to the mediator behind closed doors. The cities have offered the county an additional $51 million to cover the healthcare services. The county, meanwhile, is insisting on a massive increase of $380 million without offering any details on how the commission would spend that money – a cost that would come at the expense of city taxpayers.
Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul presented the cities’ offer, stating that it had the unanimous support of all 15 mayors, including that of the City of Atlanta.
Andy Welch, a lawyer representing a majority of the cities, argued the cities’ case before the mediator, in a presentation that was livestreamed and open to media.
“We want the facts about this negotiation open to the public, because we’re confident our arguments win the support of Fulton County residents,” said Andy Welch, an attorney presenting the cities’ opening statement. “The county has every right to keep their presentation private, but from the perspective of the city, the stakes are so high we need to provide transparency for taxpayers.
Under the current plan, Fulton County receives 4.98 percent of the LOST revenues, and the cities split 95 percent based on several factors.
“The county’s position is, either the cities transfer hundreds of millions of dollars they depend on to provide services such as police, fire and parks and to lower property taxes or else we’ll let the tax expire at the end of the year,” Welch said. “Their offer is absurd. If Fulton County lets this sales tax expire, the cities and county would lose at least $3.8 billion over the next decade – at least $1.8 billion of that comes from people who live outside Fulton County. If the county carried out its threat, it would shift a tremendous tax burden from people who are visiting the county to people who live in the county. This hurts our shared constituents.”
More than 99 percent of the 1.1 million Fulton residents live in cities, while less than 1,000 people live in unincorporated areas. Following this week’s well-attended town hall meeting in Roswell where residents aired their views, residents of south Fulton will hold a forum Wednesday evening.