County tables talk of business licenses

Published 6:20 am Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Decatur County Commissioners voted to table consideration of a proposed occupational tax until its Jan. 11, 2011, meeting amid concerns about how it was being introduced.

According to Board of Commissioners Chairman Earl Perry, an ordinance to create an occupational tax—sometimes referred to as a business license—for businesses in unincorporated Decatur County has been discussed as early as January 2010.

The purpose of the proposed ordinance, according to Perry, is to utilize a new state law that allows local governments to request information from the Georgia Department of Revenue that would detail which businesses are collecting and transmitting sales tax.

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Currently, the county government does not have access to such information because it has no record of businesses being licensed, Perry said.

“The primary purpose of the proposed ordinance is not to collect new revenue,” Perry said. “[County officials] believe we are not collecting our fair share of sales tax receipts because some businesses are not charging it in accordance with state law.”

Tabling the proposed ordinance until January (commissioners canceled their Dec. 28 meeting) will allow two commissioners-elect, Frank Loeffler and Oliver Sellers, to give their input. It will also give citizens and business owners more time to read the proposed ordinance.

Last week, Perry issued a news release on behalf of commissioners apologizing for violating the Georgia Open Meetings Law by holding a work session concerning the occupational tax ordinance last Thursday, Dec. 9. Although county administration staff e-mailed local media about the hearing on Thursday morning, Georgia law requires the public be given at least 24 hours prior notice of the meeting.

Perry said he had began organizing the meeting last Monday and said the failure to notify the public was an inadvertent error. Minutes of the Dec. 9 work session are available at

In other business, commissioners voted unanimously to purchase a BOMAG 1172 landfill compactor for a net cost of $440,913 from Stafford Equipment Company of Valdosta, Ga. The landfill compactor, which weighs more than 120,000 pounds, will help compress garbage more efficiently than a smaller compactor currently in use, County Financial Director Carl Rowland said.