Another LOST hearing is tonight

All is not LOST, and a LOST or Local Option Sales Tax is not all residents and city leaders have been talking about in a series of public hearings on Columbus Mayor Jim Wetherington's proposed sales tax for city operations.

Some community activists view the meetings as an opportunity to push their own pet issues, and occasionally the discussion gets sidetracked. But the sales tax referendum up for a vote July 15 still is the topic on the table, and folks will get another chance to talk about it tonight at the seventh of the city's eight hearings, this one designed for residents in Columbus Council District 7, the downtown and southside area represented by Councilor Mimi Woodson.

The meeting's set for 6-8 p.m. at Eddy Middle School, 2100 S. Lumpkin Road.

The last meeting will be 6 p.m. Tuesday at Double Churches Middle School, 7611 Whitesville Road. It's for residents in Council District 2, the northside area represented by Councilor Glenn Davis.

Local shoppers currently pay 7 cents on the dollar in sales taxes. Four cents go to the state, 2 cents go to the city — one because of a 1976 local option sales tax and another from a 1999 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax — and the seventh cent goes to the school district for its 2003 special purpose sales tax. Those special purpose taxes, commonly called SPLOSTs, pay for specified projects and last for a set time or until a set amount of money is collected.

Columbus' '99 tax is to expire in September, when $255.4 million will have been collected. The school district's sales tax also is expected to expire this year, and the Muscogee school board has indicated it may ask voters for another one.

If the city's referendum passes in July, its tax will take effect Jan. 1.