Writer: Gordon Jackson
Published August 30, 2022
The Brunswick News
A decade ago, Local Option Sale Tax negotiations between Glynn County and Brunswick officials were so contentious after one meeting that the two sides didn’t meet for another seven weeks.
When they returned to the negotiating table, a mediator with the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government and the Fanning Institute helped hammer out an agreement similar to the one agreed on last Friday.
Glynn County Commission Chairman Wayne Neal was among those who negotiated the most recent agreement. Neal said “negotiations” may not be the most accurate way to describe the way both sides worked together.
“These were discussions,” Neal said. “No one had the desire to let it lapse.”
Both sides had 60 days to reach an agreement once negotiations began June 28 or they would go to non-binding arbitration. If an agreement failed to be reached by the end of the year, voters would have to renew the local LOST tax through referendum.
Neal described the new deal that will span the next decade as “very fair.”
“There was no fighting, no animosity,” Neal said. “They went very well and rather quickly.”
Ten years ago, the city and county agreement gave the city 27% of the tax and the county 73%. The county also assumed responsibility for animal control, traffic light maintenance and recreation programs in Brunswick. The three programs were estimated to cost another 8% of the tax, giving the city the equivalent of 35%.
Under the new agreement, the county will get 73% of the revenue generated from the 1% tax and the city will get 27%. The county will also continue to provide traffic signal maintenance and animal control services in Brunswick for the next decade.
The city will retake control of recreation programs in Brunswick effective no later than Sept. 1, 2023, and will have to pay for them.
“We’ll have a memorandum of understanding on city recreation to give to them,” Neal said.
The agreement shows the strong relationship between the city and county, he said.
“It was extremely important this process of meetings and discussions demonstrate cooperation between county and city leadership and our mutual goal for continued success,” Neal said.
The agreement has to be formally approved by the Brunswick and Glynn County commissions at upcoming meetings.