On Tuesday August 31 and Wednesday September 1, Lowndes County and the cities of Hahira and Valdosta held mediation meetings at Rainwater Conference Center to discuss the execution of a new service delivery strategy (SDS). This two-day process included productive discussions amongst elected officials that moved topics further and left officials encouraged that a resolution can be reached.
The SDS statute requires local governments to eliminate double taxation. The Cities and County have identified several areas for negotiation, in which they will now work to resolve.
Elected officials are working extremely hard together for the common good of all citizens in Valdosta-Lowndes County. At the end of the day, both Lowndes County and the City of Valdosta want what’s best for citizens, whether they live in the unincorporated or incorporated areas. While mediation is over, both the City and County are committed to open communication to resolve the Service Delivery Agreement.
Background on SDS:
A SDS is a series of agreements that specify the way all governmental services will be provided and funded within a particular Georgia county. The purpose of a SDS is to ensure that funding equity is provided to all citizens by eliminating double taxation and reducing the unnecessary duplication of governmental services. By law, all local governments, including the county and any cities located therein, are required to establish a SDS. Naturally, the law also requires periodic review and revision of a SDS so that changes which occur over time can be reflected in the SDS, such as a shift in population trends or fluctuations in the available revenue sources.
In 1999, following the passage of House Bill 489, Lowndes County and the five cities negotiated and reached an agreement on the first SDS. In 2008, the County and Cities renegotiated that SDS to incorporate changes to the way in which governmental services would be provided between 2008 and 2016. A revised 2016 agreement has not been passed. Under state law, cities and counties must negotiate a new service delivery agreement every 10 years.