Savannah-Chatham Police Merger Could Be on March Ballot - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/11/02

Savannah-Chatham Police Merger Could Be on March Ballot

There's another election just months away. In March, Chatham County residents will vote on the penny sales tax or "special local option sales tax" (SPLOST). Voters are given a list of projects where this money can be spent. As we found out, a police merger could be a hot issue.

Flooding on Savannah's Southside was alleviated with canals, thanks to the penny from the SPLOST. Now, it's time for voters to decide whether or not to continue to pay this penny, and local politicians are setting the ballot. Along with the roads, bridges, parks and drainage, you may see something else: a police merger between the City of Savannah and Chatham County.

"Crime is a huge concern and we've got to get a handle on it," noted county commissioner John McMasters.

The city and county would use some of their allocated money to make this merger possible.

"If you think about it, we'll need new police cars, new communication system, new software," said McMasters.

And a safer city is a bigger tourism draw.

"Anything we can do to lessen the risk of people and reduce crime is important to do," Bill Hubbard, president of the Savannah Chamber of Commerce.

What you may not realize is 30 to 35 percent of the SPLOST fund comes from tourism, which is why special projects become very important. Like the proposed arena or new underground parking area, which the City of Savannah has on its wish list. The city says these projects keep on giving back.

"There's a 7-1 return rate on those projects," said Hubbard.

The final ballot won't be drawn up until January. All the municipalities and the county have a wish list of projects, and only some will make the ballot, which you will vote on March 18.

Reported by: Kim Angelastro, kangelastro@wtoc.com

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