Douglas County Commission Chairman Tom Worthan called for the first LOST renegotiation in a letter on Oct. 3 to Mayor J. Collins, though he had until 2012 to do so. Carroll County Commission Chairman Bill Chappell has not yet called for LOST renegotiations, which take place roughly every 10 years.
The first meeting with Douglas County took place on Monday and Villa Rica officials were hoping the offer would be at least 4.22 percent, which is the population the city has living in Douglas County. However, the initial offer was 3.37 percent, up from the current 0.69 percent.
City Manager Larry Wood said the lower offer was not unexpected.
“This was what I expected for Douglas County to propose, but not what I feel the city should be receiving,” Wood said in a letter Tuesday to the City Council. “Both Douglas County and Douglasville have hired consultants to present their arguments for the revised distribution and from a practical standpoint we do not have a say in the negotiations, which was pointed out by Phil Sutton, Douglas County’s consultant. Douglasville represents more than 50 percent of the municipal population and is therefore the only city that is needed to reach an agreement.”
Villa Rica in fact did not sign the agreement 10 years ago.
Villa Rica is considering teaming up with Douglasville to use former Savannah City Manager Michael Brown to negotiate on its behalf, but no agreement has yet been reached.
“We’re hoping, obviously, to get more money out of these negotiations,” Collins said. “Our population has grown tremendously in Douglas County with several of the developments we have over there and I think we can negotiate something with the county to get more than what we’re getting.”
Strictly based on populations, Douglasville would receive 23.88 percent of the overall LOST, but they were initially offer slightly more than 20 percent.
Though Douglasville has a higher Douglas County population than does Villa Rica, local city officials believe Villa Rica offers more services and thus should get more than the initial LOST offer.
If a LOST agreement isn’t reached within 60 days of the initial call for renegotiations on Oct. 3, Wood said the process will go to what is referred to as “baseball arbitration.” In baseball arbitration, a judge will review proposals for LOST revenue division by both the city and county and will choose the one he or she feels is best. The judge cannot split the difference or make changes to either proposal.
“I hope it gets settled before it gets to baseball arbitration,” Wood said.
The next meeting between Douglas County and its municipalities is Monday, Oct. 31.