Turner County v. City of AshburnAnnotate this Case
The issue before the Supreme Court in this case centered on the constitutionality of the Local Option Sales Tax Act ("LOST"), OCGA 48-8-80 et seq., or a provision of it. This case represented the fourth time the matter has come before the Court. The parties to this appeal, and those that have filed amicus curiae briefs, have shown that problems have arisen when the governing entities cannot agree to changes in the distribution formula for purposes of renewing certificates pursuant to the Act. Appellant Turner County and appellees, who are the qualified municipalities within the special taxing district involved in this dispute, reached an impasse in their negotiations for renewing the LOST certificate that authorizes them to collect and distribute tax, which certificate was required to be filed no later than December 30, 2012. Pursuant to the 2010 amendment to the statute, appellee municipalities timely filed a petition with the Turner County Superior Court seeking resolution of the dispute. Turner County filed a motion to dismiss the petition in which it raised various constitutional challenges to the 2010 amendment and its process for submitting the distribution dispute for judicial resolution. The trial court denied Turner County's motion to dismiss and sustained the constitutionality of the 2010 amendment. The court also entered a final order adopting the final and best offer of the municipalities and finding that the municipalities' offer more closely comported with the requirements of the statute and the intent and criteria set forth in the Act. The Supreme Court granted Turner County's application for discretionary appeal to challenge the constitutionality of the 2010 amendment. Upon careful consideration of Turner County's claims of error, the Supreme Court found one dispositive issue: whether the procedure for judicial resolution set forth in OCGA 48-8-89 (d) (4) violated the separation of powers doctrine of the Georgia Constitution of 1983, Art. I, Sec. II, Par. III. The Court concluded this procedure did violate the separation of powers doctrine, and declared that portion of the statute to be void.