Sales tax battle brewing in Walker County - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Sales tax battle brewing in Walker County

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WALKER COUNTY, GA. (WRCB) -- A sales tax battle is brewing in Walker County. For three decades, city and county governments have split a penny on the dollar sales tax 80-20, with the county getting the bigger portion but now three cities in Walker County are uniting to negotiate a bigger chunk of revenue.

But now Rossville, Lookout Mountain and Lafayette want a bigger slice of the tax pie. 

"We provide some of the economic engines of the county as far as where the businesses are," says Lafayette City Manager Franklin Ethridge.  
"If the county residents didn't shop in these cities they couldn't keep their doors open," says Sole County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell. 
 
The local option sales tax generates $4 million a year to be shared by the county and city. When it was first elected in, in 1987, the tax only applied to the county to help rollback property tax.

However, legislation later gave cities 20 percent of it and based it on population, which hasn't drastically changed. Seventy six percent of Walker County residents live in rural areas while 24 percent live in cities.  

"Could the city use more money, sure but we're fine," says Chickamauga City Manager John Culpepper. Culpepper says if the county's portion was cut, everyone would lose. "The taxpayers of Chickamauga are also tax payers of Walker County," explains Culpepper.

The 911 dispatch center serves every city as well as the county. Heiskell says if the county received less than 80 percent the cuts would begin there. "911 would be the sufferer," Heiskell says. 
 
Ethridge wants a 55-45 share, with the cities getting 45 percent. "We want a higher level of service as a city than what the county services are," Ethridge says. 
 
"I don't really know how it's going to turn out but I think its equitable the way it is," says Heiskell.
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