Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce

Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce...

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Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee Meeting Monday September 14, 2015 Minutes I. Invocation: Patrick Nelson II. Chamber Update: Nancy Haight provided the Chamber Update and stated that there are several Chamber events coming up in the next few weeks, including the Annual Golf Tournament next Monday. Also, there are several ribbon cutting events scheduled over the next several days; Chamber members should look for communications/announcements for those dates/times. Nancy also mentioned that new memberships are still trending well and introduced one of the newest members, Dave Garrett of Avatron. III. Welcome: Chairman Greg Patton welcomed those in attendance and stated that the meeting would be focusing on issues related to taxation and revenue. Taxes, specifically fuel taxes, were a big focus of this past legislative session and as a result, issues related to taxation, sales tax, and related issues surfaced, particularly as they impact local governments. Greg also mentioned that the Governmental Affairs Committee membership should know the issues related to revenue and taxation, how it affects the community, and then share that information, where appropriate and to that end he invited Rep. Paul Battles and County Administrator Peter Olson to address these issues. IV. Sales and Use Tax at the Dept of Revenue – State Representative Paul Battles – Rep. Paul Battles stated that several issues related to taxes/state revenues are being discussed for consideration in the next legislative session. He addressed several such issues, including: - The Fair Tax as a taxation alternative. It is a consumption tax, thus revenues increase when the economy is strong, but drop significantly when the economy is down. While the Fair Tax has some momentum and support, it may be another term or two before a Fair Tax proposal is presented. - Tax Revenue and Allocation – Rep. Battles mentioned the issue a few years back where revenues that should have been designated to Bartow County were, instead, directed to Barrow County. The error was explained as a coding issue and has been corrected, but a tremendous amount of revenue may have been lost. Also mentioned error in Floyd County where a business over reported, resulting in repayment issue. To address the sales tax reporting issue, local officials/administrators such as Peter Olson were asked to look at some of the sales tax reports. A constraint in assessing the accuracy is that limited information is available. Rep. Battles stated that two years ago the House attempted to address the issue with the “FACT Act” (Full Accountability in the Collection of Taxes), which would help ensure full/accurate collection by reforming the way local sales taxes are audited. However, the State Chamber of Commerce opposed when the bill was at the committee level, over concerns that proprietary information would be released. Also, DOR stated that, by code, the agency was not permitted to release the data to local governments. A proposal to change the law was countered with the argument that proprietary information would filter into the community. Lawmakers responded with a proposal to designate a local official for each county that would have access to the information necessary for audit. Again, there were concerns over local governments having access/control to data and issue was set aside. Recently, Rep. Battles said he had discussions with the State AG Sam Olens to look into the issue but there may be some federal-level protections, as well. He (Battles) also indicated he mentioned to U.S. Rep Barry Loudermilk that it might be an important piece of legislation, particularly since it potentially touches every state in the Union. Rep. Battles also noted that Alabama uses an automated system, so perhaps something similar could be utilized here. He

Cartersville-Bartow Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee Minutes – September 14, 2015

stated that it is a serious issue that needs to be resolved, and that new DOR Commissioner Lynn Riley is committed to doing the right thing. V. Bartow County’s Sales and Use Tax – County Administrator Peter Olson Bartow County Commissioner Peter Olson reiterated the importance of the issue and, referencing issue in Floyd County, mentioned that the County Manager felt that there was a sense of “you can’t be trusted” towards local officials in handling the revenue data, but with only very general broad categories of data available, it made it difficult to conduct any kind of audit. He also stated that GA Code actually states the local officials do in fact have access to sales tax records under certain circumstances, but that confidentiality is being used as a shield. General discussion on the issue included concerns that the revenue issue could be exacerbated if tax reform resulted in a move towards consumption taxes as opposed to property and/or income taxes. Rep. Battles noted that local schools and Colleges would be among those impacted most. Diane Tate followed up on feasibility of a computerized system. Rep. Battles said DOR response was that such a system is cost prohibitive from a budgetary standpoint, but noted that an accurate, efficient automated reporting/collection system would quickly recoup costs. Dave Garrett added that similar technology already exists within many retail establishments via lottery terminals. VI. Old Business/New Business: None . VII. Chairman Patton and those in attendance thanked Rep. Battles and Mr. Olson for discussing this critical issue with the Committee. Meeting was adjourned.

Cartersville-Bartow Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee Minutes – September 14, 2015