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Judge approves compromise
Deal avoids interruption in 1-cent sales tax
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Cumming and Forsyth County officials say they are relieved to have closed their months-long battle over the 1-cent sales tax.
"I'm glad it's over," said Charles Laughinghouse, chairman of theĀ  Forsyth County commission. "I'm glad that it's behind us and we can continue to move forward, to get projects under way."
Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt echoed those sentiments.
"We will keep the tax money coming in, approximately $4 million a month that we won't be losing with fighting in court," he said.
"I think it's a win for Forsyth County. I can only say that I appreciate the four commissioners that stepped up to the plate and [said] they wanted to work this out."
The process came to a close Wednesday, as visiting Superior Court Judge Hugh W. Stone signed off on the agreement local officials hammered out last week.
Stone informed attorneys on both sides via e-mail that their agreement is "in the best interests of the citizens of Forsyth County."
"The proposed resolution addresses the concerns I had regarding my oral announcement," he wrote in the e-mail.
In April, Stone sided with the city in its lawsuit against the county, dismissing the Feb. 5 sales tax referendum on the grounds that it deprived the city of using its population-based share of the revenue as it felt best.
He gave both sides time to negotiate a compromise before his decision would take effect.
Officials have spent the past month negotiating a compromise that would preserve the sixth round of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST VI.
The deal, which the city and the county signed last week, was necessary to avoid a costly gap in tax collections.
The sales tax, which could bring in as much as $275 million over five years, will take effect as scheduled on July 1.
All five members of the city council and four of the county's five commissioners approved the agreement. Forsyth County Commissioner David Richard was the lone dissenting vote.
In total, the city will now receive more than $24 million, with the majority of the additional $12.5 million coming from the county's recently approved $100 million bond for parks, recreation and green space.
The bond money is in addition to the $11.7 million the city will receive from the 1-cent sales tax. That money, as outlined in the referendum voters approved, can be used only for a municipal parking deck.