GA Superior Court Rules Against DeKalb Cities in HOST Dispute

The Dunwoody Crier is reporting that DeKalb County has again won a round of the Homestead Option Sales Tax legal dispute with its cities at the Superior Court level.

The multi-million dollar tiff has been dragging on for over a decade, sustained during the present day on DeKalb’s revised claim that the original agreement between DeKalb County and its cities was “unconstitutional” because it “didn’t require the cities to perform any specific services for the county”.

In the world of legal oddities and the influence of cold-hard cash, DeKalb County is attempting to find themselves in the wrong for entering into an unconstitutional agreement with Decatur and its other cities.   Apparently any potential public image problems with repeatedly claiming you didn’t know what the heck you were doing go out the window when millions of dollars of delicious capital improvement money is at stake.

The ruling really should come as no huge surprise to anyone who has followed this case from the start, since the Appeals Court ruled this Intergovernmental Agreement between DeKalb and its cities unconstitutional the last time time around, but the Georgia Supreme Court refused to rule on constitutionality since the specific “We didn’t know what we were doing!  It’s unconstitutional!” argument was never brought up (or ruled on) at the Superior court level.

So the case was sent back to the trial court and is again making its way up the food chain.

In all likelihood, the cities will appeal this decision, and the case will go back to the Georgia Supreme Court, this time with this new argument. Depending on the decision, Decatur and other DeKalb cities (excluding newer Dunwoody) will either be owed millions in back, unpaid HOST monies that DeKalb hasn’t saved or enter into a new, lesser argeement with the county based on a 2007 law.


h/t: The DNO

Posted by DM

16 thoughts on “GA Superior Court Rules Against DeKalb Cities in HOST Dispute”

  1. This would be the state constitution, presumably, and I don’t know the state constitution from shinola, but still: can someone help explain how DeKalb’s argument is remotely plausible? The court bought it so there must be something to it, but what on earth?

  2. From my extremely un-legal-educated review of this, it sounds like that, although the cities may not get the money that was collected up until now, they may get their share of anything collected from 2007 on. Not a whole loaf, but good long term slices.

  3. With the amount being well in excess of 10 million dollars just to Decatur alone, there is a tremendous amount at stake. This legal process is almost at its exhaustion point….in the end the Georgia Supreme Court is going to have to make a final judgment. Both sides know that it is almost over. In my opinion, DeKalb County is going to lose this case in a final Supreme Court ruling. A ruling which they will have no further appeals to rely on. Ignorance of the law is not an acceptable excuse. They signed the agreement and even honored it the first year….only to change their mind(s) and decide they were not going to pay in year two. Now the meter has been running since year one and the amount continues to grow. This decision is going to have a huge impact on the County and for the Cities. I believe Decatur will get its rightful / owed money sometime in 2011.

    1. You may be right, James, and I hope you are, but that begs the question:

      Where would the money come from? It has not been escrowed and we all know DeKalb County has no money now, so where do they get $10M?

  4. Excellent point Steve –

    I am not sure where the money will come from? My guess is the Supreme Court would rule that either DeKalb County pay the full owed amount with interest by a set date or would establish the amount to be paid over a set amount of time 3 years (making it a budgetary item).

    Either way, DeKalb County is hoping the continue to confuse the courts and spend countless legal fees to drag it out as long as possible. Costing tax payers even more of our money.

    1. The interest has been accruing all along already.

      What would make it even more interesting would be if the court rules that the County must also pay the City’s legal bills.

    2. 10 Million would be covered by transferring title to the courthouse and Calloway building to the city. We’d lease it back to the county after painting that parking deck with Pete the Cat murals and installing rooftop community gardens on them. Win Win

      1. I like that except for the Callaway Building part. That place is a dump. An architect friend once told me that there was nothing in that building that met Code.

        1. agreed, but it’s the location that’s valuable. The lot would be worth more cleared.
          An implosion would make a heck of a July fourth on the square finale.

        1. Yep, Karass, you’re right. I forgot those. Somewhere there is a complete list. It now sticks in my mind that there were 8 cities – have all been accounted for?

  5. According to the Crier piece, a superior court (i.e. trial court) ruled in favor of the county, not an appellate court. Certainly the cities will appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.

    And Steve, the article references nine cities.

  6. All of which is to say that the headline — “GA Appeals Court Rules Against DeKalb Cities in HOST Dispute AGAIN” — is inaccurate.

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