OUR VIEW: Hoping our leaders work it out
Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, February 2, 2021
We’re sure to the average, everyday person that our weekend story on the local service delivery strategy is akin to watching paint dry. We realize it’s a lot to take in, but it’s also extremely important and impacts every person who calls Troup County home.
The SDS is a 10-year agreement between the cities to ensure that citizens are getting the government services they are entitled to — and to ensure there’s no overlap. The county government and county seat must agree to the SDS, plus at least half of the other cities in the county have to agree as well, and that’s where things have gotten tricky.
LaGrange sounds like it’s ready to move forward with the SDS, but both West Point and Hogansville are asking for the county to consider changes, and the two sides can’t agree.
In fact, West Point and Hogansville have already written a letter to the county asking for mediation, which is the next step if no agreement is reached by Feb. 28. If it doesn’t pass by the deadline, state funding comes to a complete halt, and it’s hard to overstate what that would mean for government services in our county.
The city of Hogansville feels like it’s paying too much for fire services, and West Point has asked for numerous changes, including wanting the county to make any roadwork on Kia Parkway a county project. The fire services argument has been boiling in Hogansville for a while. As far as Kia Parkway is concerned, it’s clearly one of the more important road projects in the entire county. If it looked bad, imagine what it would do for business in Troup County.
And it’s clear the city of LaGrange and Troup County as a whole benefit greatly from the parkway. The county has pledged to help with some funding (although it’s unclear how much), and has agreed to help West Point apply for grants for the project, but West Point doesn’t believe it’s enough.
Both cities are also not in favor of the current sales tax structure, which gives LaGrange and the county 45 percent each of the sales tax collected. West Point and Hogansville only receive 5 percent each.
Hogansville has argued that sales tax should be determined by where the money is spent, and right now if someone spends $1 in sales tax in Hogansville, the city only gets five cents.
Of course, the counterargument is that 90 percent of the county lives in either unincorporated Troup County or LaGrange, so the money is split evenly by population. Likewise, West Point accounts for 12 percent of the county tax digest and feels they are entitled to a larger portion.
Last week, the county replied with its “final offer” to both cities, essentially saying take it or leave it as the clock dwindles closer to the deadline.
This is a county where the four government entities work well together, something we’ve noted repeatedly in this space. But this has the feeling of four children arguing, needing their mom to wag her finger and say ‘Y’all play nice now.” And although we don’t think it’s intended that way, it’s easy to imagine Hogansville and West Point feeling like the little brothers in these types of discussions.
Essentially, we’re looking at a real-life version of “Let’s Make a Deal,” and the stakes are too high for an agreement not to be reached in the next 26 days. The city managers and county manager Eric Mosley have been talking for six months, and it’s true that these types of deals often get done right before the horn sounds.
All four entities want what’s best for their citizens moving forward, and they should fight for every penny. But anyone can draw a hard line in the sand, and yell they aren’t moving one inch. And when that happens, nothing gets accomplished.
Hogansville, West Point, Troup County and LaGrange have worked well together for years and years. Our leaders can figure this one out too.