SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A looming deadline will determine if the City of Savannah loses tens of millions of dollars, leaving residents paying higher property taxes.
The city and Chatham County have until the end of the year to negotiate how to split the money raised from the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST).
It’s a 1% penny tax paid on goods and services throughout the county. The agreement about how to divide the revenue between the county and its eight municipalities has to be renewed every 10 years.
Mayor Van Johnson said without money from LOST, the city is at risk of losing more than $55 million in funding and it would take more than 8 mils of property tax to make up for that. That translates to an additional $8 for every $1,000 of the property’s value.
“We will get this done because we must get this done,” Johnson said. “It makes no sense to me to celebrate Savannah’s lowest property tax in 35 years just to raise property taxes a couple months later to what will be unaffordable rates.”
The county and cities began the negotiation process over the summer, but have yet to find common ground.
“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Johnson said. “We are ready to continue to sit down, continue to hash this out with our Chatham County partners to come to a reasonable agreement.”
The point of contention is how much Chatham County would get versus the cities. The county is pushing for a 50/50 split, but Mayor Johnson believes cities should get more.
“We know that cities in this county are the economic drivers, we’re the people drivers of this entire county,” he said.
Johnson said he’s already asked the city manager to review the budget in case they need to make adjustments.
When asked about negotiations at an event Tuesday morning, Chairman Chester Ellis declined to answer.