Snellville mayor pushes
for city sales tax revenue
By Brett Harrell
City of Snellville
Special to GwinnettForum.com
FEB. 11, 2003 - - M.O.S.T. stands for Municipal Option Sales Tax.
The Georgia Municipal Association as well as the Gwinnett Municipal
Association is including passage of MOST legislation at the General
Assembly as part of their 2003 Legislative Agenda. Passage of a
MOST law would allow cities additional financing flexibility by
enacting a one-cent City sales tax via a local voter referendum.
Why a City sales tax?
Cities with regional market demand pressures need access to a municipal-
only sales tax to help offset the cost of repair, maintenance, and
expansion of vitally important aging infrastructure. Cities typically
do not get their fair share of LOST (Local Option Sales Taxes) and
are not true partners when it comes to a call for SPLOST (Special
Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes).
The proposed MOST would be an additional one percent sales tax
collected at the point of retail sale within the boundaries of the
city. The proceeds would be returned to the city for financing infrastructure
improvements, capital projects, and other necessary operational
What would the MOST mean for cities?
Many cities have both heavy concentrations of retail businesses
and large numbers of tax-exempt properties such as schools and houses
of worship. As such, they are greatly impacted by increasing traffic
and congestion which places substantial pressure on road and drainage
systems as well as public safety needs.
Today, the continued rising costs of maintaining these systems
falls largely on property tax payers. Cities are increasingly limited
because of rising property tax exemptions and evaluation freezes,
from funding community needs through property taxes. The MOST would
provide funding for infrastructure maintenance and improvements
while at the same time benefit local property tax payers.
What are the other advantages of a MOST?
It is a consumption tax; you choose to pay it only when you choose
to shop. In as much as cities are often regional shopping areas,
those visitors to a city with the MOST will share in the cost of
providing the services they use.
It is a visible tax paid with each purchase rather than hidden
in an escrow account paid annually by your mortgage company.
It is collected efficiently through the existing sales tax mechanisms
and requires no added expense, overhead or manpower by the city.
Funds are electronically transferred to the city monthly, improving
cash flow for the city rather than having to schedule projects based
on the annual property tax collections.
What are the disadvantages of a MOST?
Some businesses, especially large ticket sellers, may view a retail
sales tax as a competitive disadvantage to other non-taxed competitors.
A reduction in property taxes may not offset the cost of reduced
sales. Some buyers may choose to shop outside a taxing municipality
rather than pay the penny more.
Finally, some fear cities will go on an annexation rampage seeking
additional sales tax revenue once the MOST is adopted. However,
the MOST will have sunset provisions making such a strategy risky
and therefore, less likely.
to Germany turns on concerns of war
By Elliott Brack
editor and publisher
FEB. 11, 2003 -- Germany was our destination for 10 days recently,
visiting friends and delving into some first-hand research. We found
a country where people were anxious to talk to Americans, with the
major topic being the possibility of war.
Our companions on the trip were Nona and J.M. Patterson of Lawrenceville.
We were based primarily in the Rhineland city of Mainz, where we
had friends. We also inserted two days in Berlin.
We found the Germans we talked with raising large questions about
President Bush and his preparations for war. Those we talked wanted
more diplomatic negotiations.
There during Secretary of State Colin Powell's address to the United
Nations, the wider response was one of skepticism. "No smoking
gun," was one response, while another described the efforts
to paint Iraq into a corner a "thin attempt."
Came a view from a respected editor: "If you go to war with
this information, it will not have convinced many people."
One veteran retired German foreign officer was more gloomy: "I
see nothing but war now," he said after the Powell talk. His
views were heard from others.
When J.M. and I were headed from Mainz to Bonn along the Rhine
on an IC train, and talking to each other, a German lady said to
us. "I notice you are Americans," she said, "And
wanted to ask you what your feelings were about the possibility
of war," she said hesitatingly at first.
J.M., sounding himself like a reporter, asked her back: "What
do you think of it?"
Turns out the mother of four was very much against a war, wanting
more efforts at peace. One reason: she had two draft age sons, and
this talk of war worried her. She was also concerned about the American
president, wondering if he was leading the country, as he should.
Even the highest officials in Germany are having difficulty with
the American viewpoint, aligning with the French, no doubt to the
great consternation of Mr. Bush. Chancellor Schroeder in particular
is being difficult, Mr. Bush might say.
Yet the most unusual report out last week showed that the United
States has almost the unanimous backing of its handling of the Iraq
questions with several of the former Soviet bloc of Eastern European
Isn't it ironic that the United States is having tougher relations
with this questions with several key Western European nations, yet
the Eastern Europeans, the former Soviet bloc of countries, is backing
the U.S. position!
One overwhelming realization: you got the feelings that people
throughout Germany were far more concerned about the possibility
of war than many in this country. That might be a quirk of geography,
for Middle Eastern missiles could fall on Europe easier than they
could on the United States.
It may have reflected on how much more Europeans are alert to what
we are doing in this country than we are alert to what is happening
in their countries.
We didn't go to Germany with any expectations that the war talk
would be so prevalent there. But it is.
* * * * *
Returning from Berlin on Saturday, we knew nothing about the Columbia
spacecraft tragedy until we arrived back at our base camp. Afterward,
we did as many here did: watched CNN while in Germany to get the
details of this tragedy. We found Germans most sympathetic about
the Columbia tragedy. Their television networks and newspapers devoted
heavy emphasis to it, similar to American media.
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2/11: Rolling story
story took him back years
Editor, the Forum:
Thanks for taking me back to my childhood and remembering the
thrill of the rolling store coming by our house in rural Crawford
County. I would bet that the rolling store was not nearly as large
as I remember it. You have done a great job with the Forum.
-- Charlie Hudson, Duluth
2/11: Upset over
governor changing rules for students
(Editor's note: this following letter was
sent to us after it was also sent to the Georgia governor, Dr.
Sonny Perdue. -eeb)
Dear Governor Perdue:
You have breached a contract with the future leaders of the State
of Georgia. As stated in the following document from the National
Governor's Association, Georgia's Governor's Scholarship program
seeks to retain our "best and brightest students". Your
proposed actions have put the future of Georgia in jeopardy.
As with any contract, there is an offer and acceptance for the
sake of mutual consideration. There are students currently enrolled
in Georgia's universities who accepted your offer in the Governor's
Scholarship Program in consideration of the stated benefits for
their achievement. They have relied upon your offer for all the
years of study in completion of their chosen major.
You cannot change the rules in the middle of the game. If you
wish to forsake the future of Georgia and decimate the Governor's
Scholarship, that's your call, but you cannot pull the plug on
the kids already in the program. The State of Georgia has made
a commitment to these kids and the minimum of ethical standards
demands that this obligation is fulfilled to the completion of
the educations of the kids already enrolled.
The immaterial dollars you will save now with your proposed actions
against Georgia's "best and brightest students" will
entail a future loss which will far outweigh the quick fix you
We have entrusted you with the future of Georgia. Please lead
us with vision.
-- Brian Luders, Duluth
2/11: Can't believe jazzercizing for three hours straight
Editor, the Forum:
I can't believe this, but I signed up to do jazzercise for three
hours straight. Years ago, pounds ago, I did this for six hours.
But, I want to do this in memory of my late sister-in-law Barbara
Brinkman. Every day she is my thoughts and prayers and her influence
remains on all of her children and me and John.
And I'm doing this because my cousin-in-law is reaching for
remission time and time again from breast cancer and he is going
to win this. Yes, I said "he". Men and women can get
breast cancer. And it teaches us all the lesson that our time
on earth is borrowed so we must make the best of it while we are
So, I'm collecting $5 to $10 from as many people as I can reach.
how much I would appreciate your help.
Course, you can send more, but you need to do this quickly since
we're doing this February 16, this Sunday.
If you can join me in this search for a cure for cancer via the
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, send a check payable
SUSAN G. KOMEN BREAST CANCER
and mail to:
-- Elaine Fuerst
262 Sunset Hills Drive
Norcross, Ga. 30071
OF THE DAY
Mencken was perhaps
seeing Georgia 2003 politics
"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies
to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and
both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
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