For Immediate Release
Date: March 6, 2013
Chatham County and its municipalities reached a tentative agreement on Wednesday to distribute an estimated $630 million to fund critical services over the next decade.
The agreement would increase Chatham County’s share of LOST revenue from 17.8% to 22% immediately, increasing to 23% beginning in 2014. The remainder would be divided amongst the eight municipalities of Chatham County.
Worked into the deal is elimination of daily incarceration fees the County charges to the municipalities for housing municipal inmates awaiting trial in the Chatham County Detention Center.
The agreement is contingent on the approval by both the Chatham County Commission and Savannah City Council.
“This is the best possible resolution we could reach at this time,” County Chairman Al Scott said. “It was obvious from day one that the judge felt the County offer was too high and the cities’ offer was too low, and he wanted us to come together to find common ground. Both sides gave up much during this process, but that is the nature of negotiation. Now is the time for all of us to work together and improve government for all of our residents.”
The 1% Local Option Sales Tax funds everything from Police to streets to park maintenance. By law the distribution formula must be renegotiated every 10 years.
“We are all residents of Chatham County, and that is the guiding fact that drove this agreement,” Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson said. “I would like to thank the County and all of the municipalities for doing the right thing.
“While I have high praise for Judge Adamson, the desired outcome was for the elected leaders to make this extremely important decision for our citizens, and that is exactly what happened. This shows how public leaders can come together for the good of all the people.”
The County and the cities had begun formal arbitration hearings in Chatham County Superior Court on Monday to allow Judge Robert Adamson to hear evidence from each side. After a day of testimony, the County and Cities began talks to reach a settlement at the urging of Judge Adamson. The final tentative agreement was read in court shortly after 11 a.m. Wednesday.
“I’d like to congratulate Mayor Jackson and Chairman Scott for your constant presence during this process,” Judge Adamson said. “You have reached an agreement that serves the citizens of all of Chatham County. My hope is that this will continue to keep (Chatham County) not only as a community for your residents, but as a place that all of Georgia considers extremely important.”