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Morrow opts in on energy tax

— The Morrow City Council voted unanimously to join Clayton County officials in the implementation of a two-percent excise tax on energy consumption by businesses Friday.

The intergovernmental agreement approved by the council allows the city to receive a portion of the tax proceeds. Even if the council had not voted to opt in on the tax, state law states the county could still legally impose it in the Morrow city limits but the city would receive none of the money collected.

“This intergovernmental agreement allows the county to collect, administrate and distribute the tax to the cities as they pass ordinances for the collection of a new excise tax on energy here in Clayton County,” said City Manager Jeff Eady.

The excise tax will replace an energy sales tax which the state as decided to phase out over the next four years. As the sale tax is phased out, the excise tax will be gradually phased in.

The excise tax was created when Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law which created an energy tax exemption for energy used in manufacturing. Since communities would lose a revenue stream without the sales tax, state lawmakers created the excise tax to offset that loss.

Beside Morrow, some of Clayton County’s other cities have already begun to weigh the excise tax. Officials in Lovejoy and Riverdale said their respective city councils have already voted to opt in on the tax. The College Park City Council also voted earlier this month to opt in on the tax, according to records from the council’s Dec. 3 meeting.

Officials in Lake City could not be reached Friday morning and officials in Forest Park were unsure if their city council had voted yet on the matter.

The Jonesboro City Council voted against opting in on the tax earlier this month, citing concerns it would drive businesses away from the city, but Mayor Joy Day said that decision will likely be reconsidered and possibly reversed in January.