Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis defends LOST revenue proposal ahead of mediation with mayors

In this June 15, 2018, file photo, cash is fanned out from a wallet. The millage rate just approved in Fulton County would result in an extra $20 million being collected, according to Fulton Commissioner Bob Ellis. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

On this edition of “Closer Look,” Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis discusses recent conflicts between county officials and a group of mayors within the county regarding how shares of the local option sales tax (LOST) revenues will be divvied up.

“The thing to remember about LOST is that LOST is a ten-year decision,” Ellis said. “Nothing is particularly guaranteed in terms of the digest … It’s kind of interesting how people want to criticize trying to get property taxpayers some relief in the economic times that we’re in.”

Ellis clarified that most services within the county are eligible for LOST funds, despite previous claims from Fulton mayors that the cities cover those services from their own budget.

“The mandated services that we are allowed to do … like libraries, public health, those are eligible for funding. Unfortunately, the state doesn’t prescribe a formula for how this should work, and I wish they did,” Ellis said.

Although county commissioners may not receive their desired share, Ellis hopes that a meeting between the two parties on Friday will allow for a negotiation that will best benefit Fulton County’s citizens.

“Both sides have to recognize the needs and the challenges of both parties … it’s not a one-sided agreement, but an agreement that gives both the cities and the counties the best opportunity to hold their millage rate the same, as well as their citizens, as well as to deliver their services,” said Ellis. “That should be the end result that we’re all seeking.”