Fulton County Commissioner Bob Ellis, left, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul participated in the LOST signing ceremony on Wednesday. (Submitted/Brian Robinson)

The Fulton County Commission and mayors from the county’s 15 cities held a signing ceremony in downtown Atlanta on Dec. 14 to formalize an agreement that keeps the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) – and approximately $4 billion in revenue shared by the governments – in place for the next decade.

Commission Chair Robb Pitts, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul and many other mayors and Fulton leaders participated.

It took four months of negotiations starting on July 1 which was accompanied by town hall meetings organized by the cities and responses by the county before an agreement was reached.

Throughout the negotiations, mayors shared stories of dire consequences if an agreement wasn’t reached due to the dependence their cities have on the one-cent sales tax.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens called the county’s negotiating position with its cities on the division of sales tax “irresponsible and reckless” in October.

The Board of Commissioners approved the agreement on Nov. 2 on how Fulton County and its 15 cities will distribute LOST revenues over the next 10 years.

The county share of LOST will increase from the current 4.98% to 12.5% over the next decade. The sales tax generates 1 cent per dollar on retail sales within the county boundaries and in every city.

Sandy Springs City Manager Eden Freeman said the city anticipates collecting $350 million in LOST revenue over the next 10 years.

Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.