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December 26--  Superior Court Judge H. Gibbs Flanders, Jr from Dublin, Georgia has released his ruling from the local option sales tax (LOST) hearing that was held on October 30th regarding the distribution of sales tax dollars for the next 10 years among Toombs County and the cities of Vidalia, Lyons, and Santa Claus.

In the ruling, Judge Flanders stated, "While there have been changes in the population and economic activity within the political subdivisions, the court does not find evidence justifying radical departure from the current distribution.  Taking into account all of the facts and the criteria and limited to consideration of the offers submitted, the court concludes that the Best and Final Offer presented by Vidalia is the most rational offer presented.  The court hereby adopts the Best and Final Offer from the City of Vidalia."

Based on the ruling, beginning in 2017 the county's share would begin to decrease over a 3 year period to 38% from the current 42.17% and remain there until 2022 when the distribution would be re-evaluated once again.  Also during that time, the City of Vidalia's share would increase from the current 42.17% to 45%, and the City of Lyons' share would increase from the current 14.66% to 16%.  The City of Santa Claus' share would remain at the current 1% for the ten year period.

Vidalia City Manager Bill Torrance stated, "You can, by agreement of all the agencies, make adjustments to this.  The key is cooperation and communication."

Toombs County Chair Elect Blake Tillery also stated, "As the Chair Elect and more importantly as a citizen, I found paragraph 6 of Judge Flanders order to be the most instructive.  He noted the numerous intergovernmental agreements between the municipalities and the county and he stated these agreements highlight the interdependence of the cities and the county and the necessity for cooperation between these bodies to provide the best services for our entire residential population."

Vidalia Mayor Ronnie Dixon stated, "We're just glad that this process is over and I don't think anybody really won or lost.  It cost the taxpayers of our county quite a bit of money to go through this process.  This could've been avoided if we had just sat down and talked about this like we have done in the past."