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City, county still working out tax plan
When Brunswick and Glynn County officials negotiated a tentative Local Option Sales Tax agreement on Aug. 31, they predicted both commissions would vote to approve the deal within 30 days.

That hasn't happened. Lawyers for both governments are still putting the final touches on a written agreement that will determine how the city and county will share revenue from the 1 percent sales tax for the next 10 years.

City Manager Bill Weeks said he and County Administrator Alan Ours were scheduled to meet late Wednesday to review a 23-page document that outlines the agreement negotiated with a mediator more than a month ago.

Weeks said if he and Ours concur with the contents of the agreement, the next step will be to present it to the city and county commissions for an accuracy check.

"You really need to reduce it to black and white," Weeks said. "We were talking in principle (during mediation). Someone has to write it. Both (city and county) attorneys are working on it."

If city and county officials agree the document correctly reflects what was negotiated during mediation, both commissions will hold separate votes to approve or reject how they will share revenue from the sales tax.

For the past decade, the city has received 35 percent of the proceeds and the county 65 percent. Before negotiations began, the city wanted 37 percent, leaving the county with 63 percent. The county's proposal was for the city to get 19 percent and the county 81 percent.

When city and county commissioners announced an agreement had been reached in August, they declined to reveal how the revenue would be shared until both commissions approved the deal.

But City Commission Johnny Cason independently disclosed the distribution in September because he said he feels the public has a right to know how the estimated $18.3 million generated by the tax will be shared between the two. He has been criticized by both city and county officials for revealing the city will get 27 percent and the county the remaining 73 percent for the next decade.

Other city and county officials have refused to confirm or deny the proposed split, and neither board is willing to gamble that the new division will be approved by both entities.

Just in case it's not, the city and county filed a joint petition in Superior Court on Friday. A judge from outside the Brunswick Judicial Circuit would review the original proposals for dividing up the revenue and adopt one without modification.

While city and county officials are optimistic the agreement will be approved, the joint petition had to be filed within 30 days of the tentative agreement to "preserve their respective rights to seek resolution of this dispute" in Superior Court.

Weeks described the petition as "a place holder" to ensure a spot in Superior Court if either the city or county rejects the agreement.

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