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Wednesday, March 6, 2013 - 12:35pm

Chatham Tax Fight Comes To A Halt

A Chatham County trial over local option sales taxes abruptly ended Wednesday when county and municipal leaders agreed to a deal.

The agreement means Savannah area elected officials - and not a judge - will decide how to split $630 million in tax revenue.

Cities and counties have to split local option sales taxes every ten years based on several criteria including population.

But Chatham County and its seven-municipalities couldn't reach a deal last year and opted to go to court.

Three days into the trial that began Monday, both sides apparently decided they didn't want a judge to choose between their proposals.

County Chairman Al Scott says Superior Court Judge Robert Amason felt the county offer was too high and the cities' offer too low.

"This is the best possible resolution we could reach at this time," says Scott.

In the end, the municipalities, including Savannah, will lose a share of the tax but not as much as the county originally proposed.

"We are all residents of Chatham County, and that is the guiding fact that drove this agreement," says Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson. "I would like to thank the county and all of the municipalities for doing the right thing."

The tax funds everything from police to parks.

The deal still has to be approved by Chatham County and municipal elected leaders.

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