Tue., July 31, 2012 12:00pm (EDT)

Officials Go To Mediator Over Tax
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 2 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
Pennies add up to millions of dollars when it comes to sales taxes.  Officials from Chatham County and its municipalities are having trouble deciding how to split up theirs.  (photo Total Aldo)
Pennies add up to millions of dollars when it comes to sales taxes. Officials from Chatham County and its municipalities are having trouble deciding how to split up theirs. (photo Total Aldo)
Officials in Savannah's Chatham County want a mediator to settle their differences over how to divide about $600 million in potential sales tax revenue.

County and municipal officials are on opposite sides of a numbers battle over a Local Option Sales Tax.

Most counties have a LOST.

It's a sales tax that goes directly to cities and counties to boost their budgets.

And most decide how to split it up every ten years based on Census data without much of a fuss.

In Chatham County, however, there are seven municipalities to please and county officials this time wanted to double their proposed take.

Pooler Mayor Mike Lamb says, while the county's proposed share of the tax was high, he thought negotiations were going well.

"I was really disappointed when we jumped into mediation so quickly," Lamb says. "I was hoping we could talk some more, maybe get a counterproposal."

If county and municipal leaders don't agree by August 12th, a judge would step in to resolve the matter.

Lamb says, the talks will have a huge impact on the city's budget.

"I just don't know," Lamb says. "I would hope that we could get a fair and impartial mediator who could maybe move toward a certain number that would make everybody happy."

A handful of other counties such as Lee, Upson and Lowdnes also have had difficulty recently agreeing on tax distributions.