Macon lead­ers are look­ing for leg­isla­tive back­ing on taxes, rail

The Telegraph (Macon) - - Front Page - BY STAN­LEY DUN­LAP sdun­[email protected]

A new sales tax ref­er­en­dum, pas­sen­ger rail from Macon to At­lanta and a pos­si­ble in­crease to the ho­tel/mo­tel tax were among the is­sues top Macon lead­ers are ask­ing area leg­is­la­tors to sup­port this year.

With the up­com­ing leg­isla­tive ses­sion start­ing in Jan­uary, some mem­bers of the Ma­conBibb County Com­mis­sion met Thurs­day with the mem­bers of the lo­cal leg­isla­tive del­e­ga­tion. Be­low is a re­cap of some the top­ics broached at the meet­ing, in­clud­ing the other lo­cal op­tion sales tax, which failed to gain any mo­men­tum dur­ing 2018’s leg­isla­tive ses­sion.


The other lo­cal op­tion sales tax, or OLOST, has been ref­er­enced by Mayor Robert Reichert and some county com­mis­sion­ers as a way to pro­vide some tax re­lief to prop­erty own­ers.

It also could be­come an­other source of rev­enue for a county gov­ern­ment af­ter two con­sec- utive years of prop­erty taxes be­ing raised.

A group of com­mis­sion­ers re­it­er­ated Thurs­day why they think the penny-on-the-dol­lar tax could help the county out fi­nan­cially, while also spread­ing more of the tax bur­den onto peo­ple who live out­side of Bibb.

State law re­quires that an OLOST re­sults in a 100 per­cent “roll­back” of prop­erty taxes based on the amount of rev­enue the sales tax gen­er­ates. One of the points of con­tention for some leg­is­la­tors ear­lier this

year was over whether it should only be a 50 per­cent roll­back, free­ing up more rev­enue for county com­mis­sion­ers to use at their dis­cre­tion.

The sup­port of state leg­is­la­tors is needed to get the mea­sure on a bal­lot for Macon-Bibb vot­ers to de­cide its fate.

Com­mis­sioner Al Till­man said along with a roll­back, pos­si­bly ar­eas like pub­lic safety and blight re­me­di­a­tion could ben­e­fit from OLOST rev­enue. That may al­le­vi­ate some of the con­cerns from res­i­dents about how it would be used.

“I’m just ask­ing you to al­low us to put it on the bal­lot and go out to sell it to the pub­lic,” he said.


The bat­tle over the county’s bud­get this sum­mer fea­tured de­bates on how much fund­ing some en­ti­ties such as the tran­sit sys­tem, mu­se­ums, and other agen­cies and or­ga­ni­za­tions should re­ceive.

One po­ten­tial rem­edy is for some mu­se­ums such as the Tub­man Mu­seum to get a share of the money de­rived from the ho­tel-mo­tel tax. The 7 per­cent tax cur­rently goes to var­i­ous tourist-re­lated sources such as The Cherry Blos­som Fes­ti­val and the Macon-Bibb County Con­ven­tion and Vis­i­tors Bureau.

County Man­ager Keith Mof­fett said Mayor Robert Reichert wants state leg­is­la­tors to look into rais­ing the tax to 8 per­cent, al­low­ing Ma­conBibb com­mis­sion­ers more con­trol over how hotel­mo­tel tax rev­enue is split among agen­cies.

“We have what we re­fer to as out­side agen­cies in our bud­get process that are ask­ing for ad­di­tional fund­ing,” Mof­fett said.


Mayor Robert Reichert has long ad­vo­cated for the re­turn of pas­sen­ger rail ser­vice from Macon to At­lanta.

Mof­fett said Thurs­day that the mayor would like mid­state leg­is­la­tors to con­tinue that ef­fort. Reg­u­lar pas­sen­ger ser­vice from Mid­dle Ge­or­gia to the state’s cap­i­tal ended in 1971.

There have been ques­tions from state lead­ers such as Gov. Nathan Deal, whose fi­nal term ends in a few weeks, about the fi­nan­cial vi­a­bil­ity of restart­ing the ser­vice.

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