Wednesday, July 18, 2001
Miller to appoint visiting judge in tax equity case
A visiting judge will decide whether to dismiss three Fayette cities' request for mandatory mediation of their tax equity dispute with Fayette County.
Fayette Superior Court Judge Ben Miller Friday bowed out of the case, citing the fact that he receives part of his salary from Fayette County.
"I'm technically an employee of Fayette County," Miller said before taking himself off the case.
Miller directed that a visiting judge be appointed and given the task of appointing a mediator to hear the dispute, as provided for by a state law that requires local counties and the cities within them to develop joint strategies for collecting taxes and delivering services.
County attorneys will ask the visiting judge instead to dismiss the case.
The aim of the state law governing this issue is to improve efficiency and eliminate double taxation.
City leaders in Peachtree City, Fayetteville and Tyrone are claiming that their residents are double taxed taxed by the county for services they are already taxed for and receive from the cities. The law provides for mandatory mediation of such disputes.
But assistant County Attorney Dennis Davenport filed a motion asking that the request for mediation be dismissed because Fayette and its cities filed a joint service delivery strategy two years ago. That plan expires in a year, and Davenport argues that the proper course is to wait until then, and enter into mediation if the county and cities can't agree at that point.
As soon as a visiting judge is appointed to hear the case, Davenport will re-file that motion and the visiting judge will likely consider that argument first, then move forward with mediation only if the dismissal motion is denied.