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City of West Point begrudgingly signs LOST agreement

The City of West Point approved the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) agreement on Tuesday. This is an agreement between the four governmental entities in the county; Troup County, City of LaGrange, City of Hogansville and the City of West Point. The current LOST agreement is the same percentages as the new agreement — 45% to Troup County,  45% to LaGrange, 5% to the City of Hogansville, and 5% to the City of West Point. 

The current proposal had already been signed and approved by the other three governments and would continue that agreement. 

City Attorney Alex Dixon cautioned the council, telling them if an agreement was not reached a division of the LOST revenues can be forced upon the city.

“The city should understand and the council should understand, but I think it already knows, that if there is not an agreement reached, a division of the local option sales tax, sales tax revenues can be forced upon the two smaller cities Hogansville and West Point, which would be less that 5% this current agreement provides. It would be based on population of the City of West Point,” Dixon told the council.

During the discussion, Mayor Steve Tramell asked for input from the council. Councilman Gerald Ledbetter said he felt the council needed to sign. 

“I’m thinking tonight we’re going to need to sign the agreement,” he said. “I think that’s kind of a no-brainer. We need the 5%, we don’t need to be cut to 2 or 3%.”

Councilwoman Gloria Marshall asked Tramell what his thoughts were and after a brief pause, Tramell let his feelings be known.

“I don’t like it,” he said. “I don’t like the tactics that they used through SDS, I don’t like the tactics they used for LOST. I agree with Jerry, we better do it. What can you do when you’re — you know — being bullied.”

Councilmember DeeDee Williams asked what the city can do to prepare for future negotiations. 

“So, that we’re prepared the next time this comes and I know we’re talking about a long period of time but we don’t find ourselves, yet again, helpless and can’t do anything — Is there anything we can do to renegotiate?” Williams asked.

Tramell suggested contacting the state legislature who determined the 51% control for LOST distribution. 

“We should get with our legislators and say that small communities like ourselves have been taken advantage of for God knows how long because the candidates have been collecting sales tax. I don’t know how many years,” Tramell said.

The newly signed agreement will begin July 2022 and expire Dec. 31, 2032.

LOST can be renegotiated at any time. However, SDS is a ten-year agreement.

Dixon said the argument for the City of West Point is the daytime population and the influx into West Point, as well as sales tax revenues generated by the industry and business. To that end, Dixon said, “The City of West Point would argue is much greater than 5%.”

“I would question the amount of sales taxes that’s generated in the county by the odd Dollar General and the few gas stations in the county whether they really generate 45% of the sales tax in the county,” Tramell said. “The fact that they hang on to it and won’t share it with a small town like West Point or Hogansville galls me.”

Ledbetter thanked Tramell for working hard to secure a larger portion for the City of West Point.