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      Negotiations begin for Lee County LOST funds

      Lee County commissioners are working out a plan as to how they'll distribute $31 million in Local Option Sales Tax funds throughout the county.

      The 2010 census was a clear indication that there's been a population shift in Lee County. 1980 was the last time that Local Option Sales Tax ( LOST ) negotiations were conducted, now because of the shift, Lee County commissioners are addressing the issue once again.

      We're going to meet with the spirit of cooperation and we're going to have to come to some conclusion to help Leesburg and to help Smithville get through this negotiation, said Ed Duffy, Lee County Commission Chair.

      Since the last tax negotiation the city of Leesburg has received 17 percent of LOST funds but now that the population in the unincorporated areas of Lee County has increased, the city may not get what they're used to.

      Representatives from Lee County, Leesburg, and Smithville plan to meet next week to negotiate who gets what out of the estimated $31 million dollar Local Option Sales Tax income.

      While officials mull over finances, Verizon is trying to improve their reception in the area.

      The tower can only be 150 feet tall according to our ordinance and they were asking for a variance because their tower would be 260 feet, said Lee County Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander.

      The extra height is so that Verizon users will have a stronger signal in the area. The board of commissioners is set to decide on the matter at their next board meeting.