A dispute between Dunwoody and DeKalb County over approximately $90,000 in homestead option sales tax money has been resolved with the promise the county will look at the final numbers later this year and pay the city more if necessary. The city will also pay back any funds if necessary.
The City Council on June 18 entered into an intergovernmental agreement with DeKalb County to accept $1.47 million in HOST funding for January, February and March with a provision that if the allocation is actually closer to Dunwoody’s estimate of $1.55 million, the county will pay that extra amount later this year. The county Board of Commissioners also agreed to the provision.
DeKalb County has been distributing HOST money for many years to its cities but now has been replaced by the special local option sales tax and equalized homestead option sales tax approved by voters last year.
HOST was a 1 percent sales and use tax assessed on all goods sold throughout DeKalb County, with at least 80 percent going to subsidize property taxes in the county and the remaining 20 percent distributed to cities to use on capital projects. EHOST along with SPLOST replaced HOST with 100 percent of EHOST money being used to subsidize homeowners’ property taxes. The SPLOST money would then replace capital project funding.
But with SPLOST going into effect in April this year, there were only three months of HOST money available in 2018. Rather than waiting until August, when final numbers are tallied for the HOST allocations, DeKalb was requested by some cities to distribute the money, and county officials estimated what they thought each city would receive now rather than later. To get the money, all cities had to sign an agreement with DeKalb on the amount DeKalb would to allocate to each of them.
DeKalb estimated Dunwoody would receive $1.47 million. However, Dunwoody’s finance department estimated the total was actually $1.55 million.
The Dunwoody City Council, at its June 11 meeting, debated the difference in amounts and whether they would accept DeKalb’s amount and sign the agreement.
Other cities accepted the estimates as they are, but Dunwoody did not have to do the same, City Attorney Bill Riley told the council. However, if Dunwoody did not sign the IGA, then the other cities in the county could not receive their HOST money.
Mayor Denis Shortal said when the mayors and DeKalb officials were discussing SPLOST, it was agreed that the final three months of HOST funding would be divided up in August. “Right now every other city is happy and ready to take the money and run,” Shortal said. “We want our share, but our relations with other cities should be considered, too,” Shortal added.
There was a definite sense of distrust from council members that DeKalb would pay what actually is owed.
Talk of trying to negotiate a $1.5 million allocation was raised. “The problem with a prepayment is if we get that $1.47 million now … trying to get that extra money later is more problematic,” Councilmember Terry Nall said.
Eventually, though, the council asked DeKalb County to “true up” HOST funding in August, if the actual funding numbers come out higher than the $1.47 million.
The DeKalb Board of Commissioners approved June 12 the IGAs with the cities and with Dunwoody included a “true up” provision that goes into effect in August or September. Dunwoody will receive $1.47 million now and if the amount is deemed greater in August or September, the county promises to pay the amount owed. The same goes for Dunwoody. If the HOST totals come in lower than $1.47 million, the city will repay the county what is owed.