Editorial

10/13/2012

Tax fund agreement appears to be fair one

When Glynn County and the city of Brunswick first stated what share of the Local Option Sales Tax funds each would request for the next 10 years, it looked like the beginning of a long, faction-spawning debate. No solution seemed in sight.

Each initially asked for a larger percentage than it is currently receiving. The city wanted 37 percent of the $18.3 million the 1 percent sales tax dollars generates annually, or 2 percent more than the 35 percent now channeled to its treasury. Glynn County was holding out for an even larger slice of the sales tax pie over the next decade: 81 percent, a whopping 16 percent increase over the 65 percent it collects today.

Fortunately for taxpayers, who pay the property taxes that run the school system, and city and county governments, level heads prevailed. Both agreed to arbitration and invited the Carl Vinson Institute of Government of the University of Georgia to mediate a deal between the two.

The end result: an agreement that sounds reasonable and, hopefully, acceptable to both governments. City commissioners and county commissioners will formally decide that next week. Each will vote whether to adopt the plan during their regularly scheduled sessions.

At first glance, the pact seems fair. It reflects give and take on both sides.

The county's portion of the sales tax proceeds will be greater, but so will its area of responsibility. In exchange for harvesting 73 percent of what the sales tax brings in, the county will take over the operations of city recreation programs, animal control and the upkeep of all traffic signals. To ease the impact of a reduction in sales tax dollars - just 27 percent for the city - the plan will be phased in over a three-year period.

That's wise given the fact that the economy, as well as the budgets of local governments, are still in the process of recovering from the Great Recession. The city will have more time to cushion the loss.

This sounds like a fair plan and one worth supporting by both governments. We also might add that the two governments should look around and see what other services can be merged.