Wednesday, July 11, 2001
Tax equity dispute heads to court Friday
Fayette County's motion to dismiss a request for mandatory mediation of its tax equity dispute with local cities is scheduled to be heard in Superior Court Friday.
Lawyers for the three cities involved in the dispute Peachtree City, Fayetteville and Tyrone are asking that the judge assigned to the case, Ben J. Miller, appoint a senior, visiting judge who would then appoint a special mediator to settle the cities' contention that their residents are overtaxed for the services they receive from the county.
County attorneys will argue that there's no need to appoint a senior judge and will ask Miller to dismiss the case.
State law requires that cities and counties develop joint service delivery strategies that ensure that taxpayers aren't double taxed taxed by both city and county for the same government services.
Leaders in the three cities have maintained that their residents pay several million dollars a year more in taxes than they receive in services from Fayette. County leaders argue that, if anything, the reverse is true.
Talks aimed at ironing out the dispute broke down late last year, and cities filed the request for mandatory mediation prescribed in the law.
But Fayette's attorneys filed the motion to dismiss that request, pointing out that the county and cities have filed a joint service delivery strategy that has been approved by the state, and that agreement expires in a little over a year. The tax equity dispute should be taken up as part of hammering out a new strategy once the old one expires, they argue.
"Why do it twice?" said County Attorney Bill McNally.
Miller is expected to hear arguments from both sides Friday and rule at a later date. The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Fayette County Courthouse.