MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) — On the subject of an additional local option sales tax state lawmakers can’t come to an agreement.
The OLOST bill republican delegates from Bibb County were pushing as a way to stop the county’s growing deficit didn’t make it to both houses before cross over day and as a result will leave the mayor and commission with some difficult choices ahead.
The Other Local Option Sales Tax is off the table of possible solutions to Macon-Bibb’s money problems and State Representative Allen Peake says there’s only one person to blame.
“We had the OLOST referendum tee’d up and ready to go and unfortunately James Beverly had the bill killed on crossover day, which was the last day we could have the bill passed,” Peake told 41NBC.
The bill Mayor Robert Reichert and county commissioners were counting on as a solution to the multi million dollar deficit didn’t pass in the House.
“So the citizens could decide, do we want to raise the sales tax by one penny. In conjunction with that, there is a mandated roll back of 100% of all those that are raised from the one cent sales tax to reduce property taxes,” Peake continued.
But District 143 Representative James Beverly says raising the sales tax to lower millage rates was further from a solution and closer to an additional burden on Macon-Bibb’s poorest residents.
“Why would James be against that? Well 1) I represent parts of the poorest areas in Bibb County and they’re constantly being taxed. It’s like taxing the poor to give to the rich,” Beverly said.
He says he was 100% opposed to the idea.
“Fundamentally, the OLOST when I said I was against it, I’m against that. How do you do that in good conscience? If you have a $200,000 home and you roll your millage back by 5,6,7 points but based on the OLOST, then you basically have given folks who have money a $2,000, $3,000, $4,000 tax break on property tax and they don’t need it,” he explained.
Beverly says he was willing to compromise on the OLOST if it would roll back property taxes by 50% instead of 100%. However Peake was not.
“We didn’t agree to that and I wouldn’t agree to that. Let me be very clear.”
With only a few days left in the legislative session, Macon-Bibb County leadership will have to look elsewhere for a solution.
Beverly says the other big reason he did not support the bill was because revenue generated from the OLOST could only go toward rolling back property taxes by law and not a cent could go toward the deficit.
He did give an alternative idea of using other county entities as sources to pull money from like the Macon Water Authority.
Commissioners met Tuesday night to discuss the deficit and their options further.