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March 9--  A Swainsboro attorney will mediate the sharing of Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenue among Toombs County and Vidalia, Lyons and Santa Claus.

Leaders in the governments have been unable to reach an agreement on how the revenue will be shared when the current agreement expires the end of this year.  Toombs County commissioners want to increase the county's share by nearly 20 percent and have met opposition from the town mayors.

As a result, the parties have engaged Franklin Edenfield to try to mediate an agreement with the first mediation session set for Thursday, March 29th at nine a.m. at the Toombs County courthouse.

"We'll present our side and they'll present their side to the mediator and he will come back independently and say I feel this is your weak point or this is your strong point and hopefully we'll try to reach a consensus," says Toombs County manager Doug Eaves.

The cities have already told the county they want to keep the revenue sharing the same as it is now.  If the mediator can't convince them otherwise, the issue will be decided in court.  

Eaves says they'd like to avoid a court fight, but says "we want tax equity for all citizens in the county and are prepared to work to protect that principle."

The county manager says the old formula, based solely on population, has been ruled illegal by the Georgia Supreme Court and that other criteria have to be considered.  He admits the change could be painful to city residents who could end up paying more in city property taxes.