Editor’s note: This story was originally published Wednesday afternoon shortly after a deal had failed to be reached.

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Chatham County and the eight cities located in the county failed to reach an agreement on the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) deal again on Wednesday.

Michael Owens, President of the Tourism Leadership council voiced his frustrations early Thursday morning after back-and-forth negotiations between the county and its eight municipalities were not resolved.

Owens said, “Yesterday, in a mediation the county walked away, they walked away,” Owens said. “Over 1% difference, of a $1.6 billion dollar agreement, a sales tax agreement that is generated on the sales of goods and services provided by the business community.”

If there is no agreement by the end of the month, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said it would be a tremendous loss for the entire county.

“The fact of the matter is we only raise revenue or we cut services or we cut, we raise taxes. And, for us that affects people. This is not a plot to us, this is not a ploy to us, this is not a game to us, this is real people, these our real citizens whose lives could be affected for the city of Savannah literally from December 31st to January 1st”.  

Before the press conference began on Thursday, someone had placed a clown in the window at the Chatham County Courthouse. Local leaders were strongly upset saying they felt as though the county was not taking the negotiations seriously.

Johnson is hopeful there can be peace amid this ongoing battle.

“We do not want to be LOST with LOST and we’re asking for the entire community to be able to stand together and certainly create a situation where we all win, no one loses and we’re able to serve as we serve,” Johnson said.

All eight mayors sent a letter to the Chatham County Chairman of Commissions asking for a deal on LOST.

The big deal locally is that if the current deal expires at the end of the month both the cities and the counties will be out millions of dollars. That could be a huge concern to anyone paying property taxes in Chatham County because that would mean property taxes would likely go up.

The tax agreement comes up every 10 years. It is money that is generated when people shop, eat and visit businesses in Chatham County.

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 in-case but not getting one. 

The county has argued that it needs the extra money because of the rising cost of providing services.

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

Later in the evening, Chairman Ellis provided a statement on the negotiations:

“The County is required to provide legally mandated services to all Chatham County residents at a cost of $163 million a year. The offers from the municipalities did not come close to covering those costs. The $102 million, referenced by Mayor Johnson, breaks down to about $10 million a year and still does not get us close to the numbers we need.”

— Chairman Ellis

Chatham County also added that since neither party could agree on the offers as presented, the County delegation felt no further progress could be made today and left the mediation.