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Lovejoy strides toward certification

By Justin Boron

Lovejoy will likely be certified by Jan. 1, making it eligible to receive sales tax dollars from the county in 2005, the city's attorney said.

The move to certify stems from the city's increased economic development as it looks to cut its umbilical cord from the county on whom city officials say it has depended for improvements to its roads, sidewalks and parks.

It also receives county fire and police protection.

In the past, the city has been largely reliant on help from the county, Mayor Joe Murphy said.

Certification will give the city more independence to improve roadway conditions where it sees fit, said Murphy.

While increased autonomy was one of the considerations for certification, the city's coffers also played a role, Murphy said.

The city is spending more money than it takes in, he said.

If the pace continued without the income of sales tax, the city may have had to embrace a property tax, Murphy said.

The city attorney estimated that Lovejoy's apportionment of sales tax split between the cities in the county would be similar to Lake City.

But figures ranging from $300,000 to $500,000 have bounced around the community.

The city won't know exactly how much it will receive until it negotiates an apportionment with the county, said Don Comer, the county's attorney.

The city shored up requirements for certification after the City Council voted to approve the addition of garbage service to the city.

The move gave Lovejoy the three municipal services required for city certification.

The city has a library and contracts fire service through the county.

All that remains are formalities. Hecht said the city would have to notify the state, which then informs the county government.

Council member Bobby Cartwright said the certification came in the city's natural progression.

"It was inevitable," he said.

Council member Arlie Aukerman, who voted against the approval of garbage service, said he opposed certification.

He said his resistance stemmed from ambivalence between accepting the city's growth and the fight against additional taxes.