SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Chatham County Commission Chairman Chester Ellis signed the LOST agreement Tuesday afternoon after weeks of discussing the contents of the deal.

Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) revenue comes from people spending money on shopping, eating, drinking, staying in hotels and more. The purpose of the tax is to help support budgets for the cities and keep Chatham County property taxes down.

Chairman Ellis said that last Thursday, the county received positive news from Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) that, for the first time in history, Chatham County will be included in the congressional budget.

Over the past couple of years, Chatham County has requested funds through the Federal Congressional Directed Spending opportunity with Senator Warnock and Senator Ossoff.

On October 3, Chatham County received notice of an award from the National Historical Publication and Records Commission to support the Historical Archives Project led by the Clerk of Superior Court in the amount of $1,066,000.

On December 22, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners was informed that a couple of Chatham County projects were included in the recently approved spending bill. This includes $1,200,000 to support the construction of Chatham County’s Public Safety Building near the airport to house communications, dispatch, and the Emergency Operations Center. In addition, Chatham County will receive $500,000 for Sea Level Rise Study. Funds will be appropriated to the federal department for distribution.

Furthermore, Chatham Area Transit will receive $30,700,000 over five years to expand and enhance transit services.

“There is still yet more to come. The other monies that we applied for as far as grants — these monies are not grants, these are monies directly earmarked for Chatham County, they’re a line item — in the coming months you’re going to hear us receive grants that we’ve applied for.”

Originally, the county was taking in 23% of the funds but the new LOST agreement raises that to 31% by year four. The agreement takes a step-ladder approach as the county’s share jumps from 25% in 2023 to 31% by 2026.

The City of Savannah provided a breakdown of the agreement:

YearCounty ShareMunicipal Share
202325%75%
202426%74%
202528%72%
202631%69%
202731%69%
202831%69%
202931%69%
203031%69%
203131%69%
203231%69%

The Chatham County Board of Commissioners emphasized the importance of keeping taxes low and improving the quality of life for people in Chatham County while also funding important projects like roads and bridges.

“We are the people who live in Chatham County,” Chairman Ellis said. “Our top priority is the quality of life for everyone in Chatham County.”

Mayor Van Johnson released a statement after the press conference supporting the signing of the deal.

“I am pleased that the agreement has now been executed by all parties and we can move forward,” said Johnson. “The municipalities negotiated together in good faith to arrive at the fairest distribution possible and this distribution agreement will allow all local governments in Chatham County to continue meeting service demands for residents and visitors.” 

This move officially puts the agreement into force upon delivery to the state of Georgia.