County supports fractional SPLOST

CANTON — Citing the opportunity for more flexibility, the Cherokee County Board of Commissioners signed a resolution Tuesday supporting a fractional SPLOST bill introduced by state Rep. John Carson (R-Marietta).

A fractional SPLOST bill would allow counties to collect Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenues at a fraction of a percent. Currently, SPLOST money can only be collected through a 1 percent sales tax.

“You would legitimately put together a list of needs. If it turns out you need less than a penny, you charge less than a penny,” Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens said.

Ahrens said the commission has asked state legislators for tax code updates no fewer than three times in the last seven years.

Commissioners approved the resolution in a unanimous vote.

“There certainly seems to be no harm in having that flexibility,” Commissioner Harry Johnston said.

Johnston said the bill could open counties up to political pressure to cut SPLOST project lists.

“It almost means we would not get the full percentage moving forward,” he said.

The Cherokee County commissioners modeled their resolution after one passed by the Cobb County Board of Commissioners last week. 

“I believe Cobb had a good resolution, and we could adopt this as well,” Commissioner Jason Nelms said during Tuesday afternoon’s work session.

Commissioners also approved joining a class-action lawsuit seeking unpaid transfer taxes from the sale of foreclosed homes.

Transfer taxes are paid when a real estate title is transferred to another owner. The tax is based on the property’s sale price at the rate of $1 for property value up to the first $1,000 and at the rate of 10 cents for each additional $100 or fractional part of $100, according to the Georgia Department of Revenue. The tax is paid by the seller unless both parties otherwise agree.

“The question of law here is whether the federal agencies (Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae) have to pay these transfer taxes,” Johnston said.

County Attorney Angie Davis said Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties have already joined the suit.

The county will pay on a contingency basis, so attorneys will only be paid if the county recovers any money.

“This type of case is springing up all over the country,” Davis said.

The commission also voted to:

* Reappoint Debra Frieden to the Board of Ethics;

* Appoint Bill Dewrell to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Commissioner Brian Poole made the appointment;

* Surplus outdated computers and other small office equipment from Cherokee County Probate Court;

* Surplus outdated computers from the Cherokee County Animal Shelter;

* Increase the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office’s uniform patrol budget by $1,416 for the repair of a patrol car hit by a construction vehicle;

* Allow the county manager to execute an amendment of a professional services agreement with Convergent Technologies Inc. for the maintenance of security systems. The company has reduced the maintenance cost by 5 percent, bringing the anticipated cost for the 2013 fiscal year to $17,689;

* Award the professional service agreement to Ascension Counseling and Mental Health, LLC, for treatment and case management services at a cost not to exceed $960 per participant and a $30 evaluation fee per patient for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit Drug Accountability Court;

* Award a softball umpiring contract to North Georgia Amateur Umpire Association at a cost of $24 per official for slow-pitch games, $40 per official for fast-pitch games and $21 per official for youth classic games;

* Approve a supplemental agreement from NJ Wilbanks Contracting Company for relocation of a detention pond with no additional cost to the county;

* Approve a Georgia Department of Transportation contract to receive six buses for the Cherokee Area Transportation Service rural transportation program at no cost to the county;

* Approve a contract with Total Care Transportation Services for off-peak transportation services through the CATS demand response program. Costs are to be reimbursed through a Department of Human Services supplemental fund contract; and

* Remain the fiscal agent for Families of Cherokee United in Service.