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Energy consumers to pay new tax

— The Clayton County Board of Commissioners has decided to create a new energy excise tax on manufacturing businesses in the county.

The tax, which is allowed under a new state law, is on energy used by businesses during the manufacturing of goods.

Municipal leaders now have to decide whether they will stick to commitments they made last month to join the county and levy the tax. Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to create the tax, as a follow-up to a Sept. 18 meeting with city leaders.

“At that meeting, all of the cities — with the exception of the city of Morrow — indicated a desire to join with the county in that,” said interim County Attorney Jack Hancock.

The next step will be for county representatives to negotiate an intergovernmental agreement with the cities, and to get approval of the agreement from each town’s city council, said Hancock. The commission also must approve the agreement.

State law stipulates that with the county commission’s approval of the tax, cities can receive funds from it only if they decide to opt in on it. The participating cities receive the same percentage of excise tax revenue as they receive for SPLOSTs and LOSTs, under the law.

“I think it [the intergovernmental agreement] is pretty straight forward because how it is divided is already established,” said Hancock.

The law was created when Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 386, which created an energy tax exemption, into law in April. Under the law, “the sale, use, storage or consumption of energy which is necessary and integral to the manufacture of tangible personal property” is exempt from almost all state and local sales and use taxes. The only exception is sales taxes used to fund education projects, according to the law.

But, the excise tax was also created by the law so local communities would have a way to offset the lost tax revenues.

The energy sales tax will be phased out over the next four years, while the excise tax will be rolled out over the same period.