Columbia County, Harlem and Grovetown officials have called the negotiations a game of chicken.
After last week's Local Option Sales Tax meeting, both sides seem reluctantly ready to take the impact that would result if neither side gives way.
At the March 28 meeting, Grovetown council members presented a proposal that takes their average share of $164,866,280 - the estimated penny tax take during the next decade for the entire county - from 10.7 percent to 8.9 percent in the next 10 years.
The plan gives Harlem and Grovetown slightly more than $2 million dollars each than does the county's plan.
"When you are talking about $164 million, $4 million isn't a lot," said Grovetown Council Member Bruce Stoddard.
One of the problems some county commissioners have with the plan is the amount of money it would spend per citizen.
In Grovetown's plan, the county would get $180.33 per capita. That is $18 less than Grovetown would get and $233 less than Harlem would receive. Harlem Mayor John Bentley said that number should drop once a citizen recount is complete.
"Do you feel comfortable doing that?" Columbia County Commissioner Frank Spears asked Grovetown council members. "Because that is not parity."
Fearing no compromise would be reached by the May 7 deadline and preparing for the possibility of losing the LOST money, Spears asked about the Homestead Option Sales Tax.
If both sides can't agree on the LOST negotiations, County Administrator Steve Szablewski told the group the county could ask voters to support HOST - which allows county governments to use 20 percent of the proceeds for capital outlay purposes.
Though the two city government would not receive any money from HOST, Szablewski said the citizens would be allowed the same property relief given to county citizens.
"It's not a good as LOST," Columbia County Board of Commissioners Chairman Barry Fleming said. "But it's better than nothing."
Only two Georgia counties - DeKalb and Rockdale - use HOST. That fact prompted Harlem Mayor Pro-Tem Scott Dean to ask a question.
"If HOST is so good, how come only two counties use it?" Dean said.
Before adjourning, the group decided to meet the week of April 15. The group will have a little more than a month to come to a comprise after the next meeting.
"Every proposal has moved to make the numbers closer," Fleming said. "It's just a matter of how closer and how quick."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.