Tifton offers water deal in attempt to finalize sales tax renewal
TIFTON, October 4, 2022: The City of Tifton and Tift County have taken great strides toward a final agreement in Local Option Sales Tax distributions, agreeing to keep the distributions of the revenues the same for the next 10 years. While Tifton has declined the county’s demand that it hand over its water system to a county water authority as part of the agreement to continue the Local Option Sales Tax, the city has offered that, upon termination of the water agreement with the County, the City will pay the County dollar for dollar its investment in the water and sewer system and provide bulk water to the new county system into the future as the City has done in the past.
“We’re looking to create a win-win for the city and county,” said Tifton Mayor Julie Smith. “The city has said from Day One it’s the duty of the elected officials in this county to reach a deal on LOST because it’s vital to paying for much needed city services while keeping property taxes low for homeowners and businesses, whether in Tifton, Ty Ty, Omega or unincorporated areas of Tift County.
“While Tifton sees the water systems or pending litigation as issues separate from the LOST negotiations, we have proven we’re willing to work to find common ground. This offer comes on top of the city’s announcement that it will equalize water rates for city and county residents starting Jan. 1.”
In a letter to Tift Chairman Tony McBrayer sent on Tuesday, Smith outlined the city’s water proposal.
“The City has operated a water and sewer system since 1907 which was built to a large extent on the backs of the city taxpayers,” the mayor wrote. “For almost 120 years the City has provided clean and safe drinking water to residents of the City and the County as well as operating the water treatment plant for the benefit of all residents of the county. The City stands ready to continue to provide safe drinking water and sewer services to all county residents who desire the services.”
Smith said this agreement won’t solve all of the differences between the city and county, but it accomplishes the top priority for Tift taxpayers.
“LOST provides an important revenue stream for both the city and county, serving our citizens by reducing property taxes while subsidizing our taxpayers with dollars spent here by people from outside the county,” Smith said. “It’s time to get this deal done.”