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.
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.