‘All I want for Christmas is a fair LOST agreement’: Officials argue over sales tax distribution

SAVANNAH, Ga () — Tonight the fight continues over where sales tax money made in Chatham County should go.

“All I want for Christmas is a fair LOST agreement, but I might have to see Santa Clause for that,” Mayor Van Johnson said on Tuesday.

Chatham County commission wants more of that money to go into its budget, but Savannah’s mayor says not so fast. 

This local option sales tax agreement comes up every ten years. It is money that is generated when people shop, eat, and visit businesses in Chatham County. Today Savannah’s mayor flat out said, the majority of this money is made in the 8 cities in Chatham County, and that is where the money should stay. 

It is becoming pen pal politics in the argument over where sales tax money in Chatham County should go. 

“This is a process that by nature is a little adversarial because you are fighting over money,” Mayor Johnson said. 

Chatham County’s Commission wants to split the local option sales tax cash in what would eventually become 49% going to the county and 51% divided up between the eight incorporated cities. The mayors of those cities said that’s not fair. Those mayors believe their cities deserve an incase, but not getting one. 

“Can we live where we are? We went from 88 to 77 percent. The county is still on 50 percent.”

Chatham County Commission Chairman Chest Ellis weighed in saying, “To let it stay at 23 to 77 as it now means that we are going to increase everyone’s taxes rather than reduce everyone’s taxes.” 

The county has argued that it needs the extra money, because of the rising cost of providing services. But Savannah’s Mayor today quickly pointed to the county commission’s decision to roll back property taxes over the summer, adding that sales tax money shouldn’t go to pay for essential services. 

These are the two letters that have gone back and forth. The eight mayors, including Savannah’s, feel a 77 to 23 percent split, with the majority of the sales tax money staying where it is made, is fairer. The county has already said no to that. 

This negotiation will continue. 

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