STATEMENT ON LOST NEGOTIATIONS: Fulton County’s Request to Continue LOST Mediation Remains Unanswered

October 17, 2022
While Fulton County continues Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) negotiations with the cities in good faith, the cities have not yet responded to our request to continue mediation. Instead of continuing talks, they hired a PR firm and held a press conference.

Statements made today by city representatives present a false choice – whether to receive services from the city or from Fulton County. In fact, the County and the cities both provide different services to our residents.

The cities have claimed that the County is seeking a reduction to their LOST revenues. This is false. Fulton County has presented eight offers that would maintain the cities’ LOST funding pool dollars at or above their 2021 level.

One thing the cities have said is true – on October 7 the County did request an increase in LOST funding, phased in over the next decade. The County is only receiving 4.95% of LOST today. The County’s most recent offer would yield $22.8 million in LOST funding for the County in 2023, compared to $15 million in 2021, an increase of just $7 million.

In contrast, the cities’ latest offer would increase the County’s LOST funding by an average of just $1.2 million a year – approximately $1 per resident served. The cities’ collective funding would increase by $114 million per year -- $95 per resident.

This increase does not come close to addressing the funding needs that Fulton County is facing, especially to address the dual crises in public health and public safety.

Public Safety: The cities’ law enforcement services rely heavily on Fulton County. Almost all detainees in the Fulton County Jail were arrested by a city police officer. Those cases are processed in Fulton County Courts. The County is allocating $28 million annually to lease jail beds from other jurisdictions, including Atlanta, in addition to normal jail operating costs.

Public Health: Two hospitals have closed in Fulton County this year. Fulton County has received requests for more than $140 million annually for indigent health care. The cities’ offer of an additional $1.2 million annually could cover just one month of additional demand for indigent healthcare.

The dozens of agencies funded by Fulton County – from Grady Health System to community nonprofits – are anxiously watching LOST negotiations, along with the 1.2 million residents we serve. In coming days, Fulton County will allow these agencies to share their side of the story.

As we continue with these good faith negotiations, we will not stoop to turning citizens against our cities – who are supposed to be our partners in service. Instead, we call upon the mayors to demonstrate true leadership and continue these difficult conversations.