Milledgeville City Council met Monday to discuss the status of a dispute over more than $1 million in SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax) funds the body says are owed from Baldwin County. Mayor Richard Bentley penned a letter on behalf of Council in June threatening legal action to recover $1,037,486.50 in 1-cent sales tax monies plus interest.
City Manager Barry Jarrett reported to Council that the money, a portion of the city’s share of the SPLOST, has not been paid from the SPLOST agreed to by the city and county in 2005. That SPLOST has since expired. An extension of the tax was voted on and approved last spring.
The letter, spurred by a late payment by the county to the city on the current SPLOST agreed to by the city and county in 2010, gave Baldwin County a July 1 deadline to address the dispute. Bentley told Baldwin County Commission Chair Faye Smith that if the issue is not addressed, city attorney Jimmy Jordan has been authorized to proceed with legal action to recover the money.
Bentley said Monday that the county is working with the city to resolve the issue. Jordan said negotiations are ongoing.
Interim Baldwin County Manager Ralph McMullen issued a press release last week saying the two parties would work together to solve the dilemma caused by less than anticipated sales tax revenues and a requirement to fully fund the city and county joint project to construct the new Baldwin County Law Enforcement Center.
McMullen said outside of those explanations, the county would not offer further comment on the funding dispute.
Since drafting the letter to the commission chair, the city of Milledgeville has received the first two payment installments from the current SPLOST collections.
McMullen said the revenue anticipated from the previous SPLOST totaled $45 million. Actual collections fell far below estimates.
Council and the commission have met with their respective legal counsel since the demand for payment was filed by the city.
Council took no action at Monday’s meeting, except to enter into executive session to discuss the matter.