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Sunday, March 3, 2013 - 11:30pm

Judge To Decide Divison of Funds

Attorneys for Chatham County and its seven municipalities will be in court today to argue over sales tax revenue.

A state judge will decide how to split $630 million.

Tourist dollars make up about 40% of the revenue generated by local option sales taxes in Chatham County.

State law provides a blueprint for how the county and its cities should share the funds.

But that blueprint broke down last year when officials couldn't work out a deal.

"The revenue that is being raised by our tourism, the taxes on the rooms and all of that, it's generated here in Savannah and in the other municipalities," says Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson. "And we do the services. We do all of the infrastructure."

County officials argue the split should be based more on population.

"What percentage of the county's budget is funded with LOST? It's only about eight percent. If you asked what percentage of the city's budget is funded with LOST, it's would be 40 percent," says County Chairman Al Scott. "The county is adhering to the intent of the law which is to roll back property taxes. You could make an argument that the city is not following the intent of the legislature."

The last Census saw growth in Savannah's suburbs but little growth in the city.

The judge's decision could affect property taxes and local budgets in the county and its seven municipalities.