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Thursday, December 23, 2010 - 11:00am

Chatham Seeks Utility Fee Relief

When the upcoming legislative session gavels open, Chatham County leaders will ask for a change in the law regarding utility franchise fees.

County leaders say, the law makes some residents pay a fee that doesn't benefit them.

Under state law, utilities like cable companies have to charge a fee in many areas called a franchise fee.

That fee is divided up to spend by local municipalities.

But because of a quirk in the law, people who live in unincorporated Chatham County pay the fee, but then the money is divided up and spent by the City of Savannah and other municipalities.

Chatham County Chairman Pete Liakakis says, that's not fair.

"It's like taxation without representation. That's exactly what it is," Liakakis says. "The people that are paying this tax have no benefit from it and there's no justification in that."

Cobb and four other counties join Chatham in having the legal quirk that results in unincorporated residents paying the fee.

Officials from the Georgia Municipal Association, which represents Georgia cities, say, they would oppose the change if it means cities get less money.

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