Atlanta mayor signs onto county’s sales tax plan

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has signed onto a deal divvying up billions of dollars in a local option sales tax with Fulton County and its cities, averting the risk of losing $240 million in annual revenue county-wide.

Atlanta and College Park were the holdouts in the deal backed by Fulton County and 12 other cities, a plan that slashes Atlanta's annual share by $5.8 million per year over the 10-year life of the tax. Leaders from North Fulton largely spearheaded the plan, which gives Northside cities millions in new revenue to help fund their services and keep taxes down.

Both Reed and College Park Mayor Jack Longino reportedly agreed to the deal Thursday ahead of a state-imposed deadline. Had they not signed and given Fulton County a unanimous agreement, the county’s 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax could have been at risk.

LOST funds, a pot of money fed by every sales purchase across the county, are meant to lower property taxes. The county and local governments use the money for many government services: to hire police and firefighters; pave roads; keep libraries open; and fund health, senior and youth services.

Reed’s move comes after the Georgia Supreme Court struck down last week a key provision in state law designed to force governments to work together on a plan for sharing the money. Fulton is one of 17 counties across the state scrambling to submit a LOST plan to state revenue officials by end of Thursday — the last day any government can challenge the Supreme Court’s decision.

Reed’s administration said in a statement the city signed onto the deal because “the uncertainty created by the recent Supreme Court decision could cause even greater harm to the City, should the Georgia Department of Revenue determine that no tax should be collected. Further, the Mayor is confident that Atlanta’s growing economy will mitigate any reduction in Atlanta’s share of the LOST proceeds.”

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